Lhe wave of cold that is sweeping over France warms the hearts of farmers. Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the balcony, far from the embers, fueled their fears. In the fields, the unusual heat was pushing the fires of plant growth. And this, until mid-January. What arouse reluctance in the ranks of grain farmers.
Already, throughout the month of October 2022, at the time of sowing winter wheat and barley, temperatures have been abnormally mild. Good or even too good sowing conditions. The first leaves even showed their noses. However, growing too quickly makes the plant sensitive to frost. Fortunately, a cold period followed with a gradual drop in temperature, and nature was finally able to go dormant.
This impulsive mercury gives cold sweats to cereal growers. “The state of the crops is very good and very advanced at the moment. We were worried, but the current cold is very good news”sums up Benoît Piétrement, chairman of the board specializing in field crops at FranceAgriMer and grain producer in the Marne.
Global recession risk
Another thermometer is closely followed by cereal growers, that of the markets. However, he also suffered a cold snap. “The price of milling wheat is bearish”affirms Arthur Portier, of the Agritel firm, before specifying: “It fluctuates around 280 to 285 euros per ton and thus returns to its level before the Ukrainian conflict. » To be compared with the historic high, at 438 euros per tonne, reached in mid-May 2022, in the midst of a speculative commodity bubble.
“The risk premium linked to the Ukrainian conflict is disappearing. While the volume of Ukrainian grain exports had fallen to less than one million tonnes per month, it returned to its average level of the past five years, at almost five million tonnes per month”, emphasizes Mr. Portier. Other elements contributing to this decline in the price of wheat: the risk of a global economic recession and uncertainties about the pace of recovery of the Chinese engine, after the end of the zero Covid policy. Not to mention the strengthening of the euro against the greenback.
“A number never reached”
Investors are also weighing the harvests. However, wheat is not lacking on the planet, for the greatest benefit of the populations. “Global collection estimates for the year 2022-2023 reach 763 million tonnes, a figure never reached before”says Marc Zribi, head of the grain and sugar unit at FranceAgriMer.
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