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Crops Briefs, Feb. 23

Farmers favouring corn over wheat

kiev / reuters / Ukraine is likely to bring in a grain harvest of 45 million tonnes in 2012 — its fourth largest in 20 years — despite a severe drought and cold snap which has hit winter grain crops.

“This year’s harvest could total 45 million tonnes thanks to a record harvest of maize,” said Yelizaveta Malyshko, analyst for UkrAgroConsult

Ukraine harvested a record 56.7 million tonnes last year. The latest estimate puts the wheat harvest at 13.7 million tonnes versus 22.3 million tonnes of wheat a year ago. Corn production is expected to jump by one-quarter to 20 million tonnes.

U.S. ethanol stocks swell

reuters / U.S. ethanol makers stepped up production of biofuel last week after output had fallen to a 2-1/2-month low and stocks swelled to a fresh record high, the Energy Information Administration reported Feb. 15.

Ethanol production averaged 928,000 barrels a day in the week ended Feb. 10, up 5,000 barrels per day from the previous week, a 0.5 per cent increase, EIA data showed.

Stocks of ethanol, primarily made from corn in the United States, ballooned to a fresh all-time high of 21.49 million barrels, up 430,000 barrels, or two per cent, from the prior week.

Ethanol supplies have increased by more than 3.5 million barrels, or nearly 20 per cent, since the beginning of the year.

Wheat board has no comment

beijing / reuters / Canadian Wheat Board boss Ian White refuses to say whether the board might be planning to sell wheat or barley to Iran, but added that “we sell wheat to Iran when they need it.”

Trade with Iran is becoming increasingly difficult because of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

Asked whether the sanctions would complicate a possible sale to Iran, White said: “The Iranians pay promptly but obviously we’d have to look at all the factors associated with it.”

Iran imports around 4.5 million tonnes of grain a year, including about 3.5 million tonnes of corn, mostly for animal feed.

Cargill says it plans to continue grain shipments despite signs Iran is struggling to process payments as trade sanctions bite.

“Like all the international companies, we do business there, but you have to be very careful,” said vice-president Paul Conway.

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