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Global Grain Geneva diary - day three

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Now there’s something Agrimoney did not expect to see at Global Grain Geneva.

 

Alain Butler at BNP Paribas puts up a chart showing deliveries of both snowshoe hare and lynx pelts to Hudson Bay, Canada, up to 1930.

 

It shows quite a cycle going on in both, the point being that these kind of things are inherent in nature-related markets.

 

The cycle of lynx pelt volumes was also lagging a touch behind that for hares, demonstrating which animal was eating which.

 

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From kills to kilowatts.

 

Solar panels may have a brighter future than biofuels in agriculture, Mr Butler said.

 

While estimating at a relatively small 100,000 hectares the area of US land allocated to solar panels so far, this was likely to grow.

 

Such operations offer a reliable, annuity-type income for our “ageing farmers”.

 

They are also more efficient, in terms of converting sunlight into energy we can use.

 

“Plants capture about 5% of energy from the sun,” far less than the 30-35% which can be captured by solar farms.

 

“Biofuels are not going to be challenged so much by policies as challenged by markets,” Mr Butler says.

 

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What is the chance of a new weather upset ahead?

 

Not large, according to Kyle Tapley at Maxar.

 

As it looks now, the world is not poised for an El Nino, or its counterpart La Nina (which is actually more damaging for US crop prospects).

 

“The consensus of models is that we are remaining in a neutral phase [ of the El Nino-La Nina cycle] into next year and into the next growing season in the northern hemisphere,” he says.

 

Dry spots

 

Nor is there likely to be a negative Pacific decadal oscillation, or PDO, which was, like La Nina, linked to the 2012 drought in the US.

 

Not that this means there are no potential weather factors to worry about.

 

Southern Brazil is “an area to watch out for in terms of dryness” over the next few months, Mr Tapley says.

 

There is also a “drier risk across hard red winter wheat areas” in the southern Plains.

 

And Australia remains a “disaster… where crop weather is concerned”, Mr Tapley said, noting a “very bad situation for agriculture in Australia”.

 

 

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The conference has witnessed another novelty – one merchant praising another.

 

Swithun Still - the director of Solaris Commodities, president of the Gafta industry association, a big noise in exports of Russian grain and the highest-ranked tweeter of Global Grain Geneva too - said that canny trading was behind France’s improved success at wheat tenders by Egypt’s Gasc.

 

“Gasc buying so much wheat from France this season is down to Glencore,” he said.

 

“If it had not for Glencore, Gasc, would not have priced so much” French wheat.

 

Gasc has bought 420,000 tonnes of French wheat so far in 2019-20 (OK, out of 4.25m tonnes including Thursday’s large purchase), of which all have been sold by Glencore.

 

“Chapeau,” or “hats off”, Mr Still said, doffing an imaginery Tirolerhut. The chunky Gafta presidential medal, however, remained tight to his chest.

 

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Thinking of tweets, how long do we spend thinking of tweets?

 

Dan Basse, chief executive at AgResource, notes that US President Donald Trump’s tweet count now exceeds 17,400.

 

That is equivalent, timewise, to 77 days spent tweeting, on Mr Basse’s calculations.

 

But that does assume 10 minutes per tweet. That could be argued to be an overestimate for a 280-character comment from a president not renowned for pauses for reflection, or his concentration span.

 

 

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