RUSSIAN WHEAT CROP AT RISK OF WINTERKILL... Up to 25% of Russia's winter wheat crop in southern and western growing regions could have suffered damage following recent frigid temps, according to the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR). Snowcover in these regions is light, leaving the crop susceptible to damage.
"The most affected area looks like parts of Samara, southwest parts of Tatarstan, southeast of Voronezh, south and west of Volgograd, and north and northeast of Rostov," said Dmitry Rylko, general director for IKAR. "It's difficult to assess the damage in these regions, but I would say between 5% and 25%," Rylko said. Of particular interest is conditions in the country's southern "breadbasket."
MARTELL: DECEMBER DROUGHT CLIPPED BRAZIL BEAN POTENTIAL... Brazil saw unusually dry and warm weather for the month of December, which coincides with rainy season, according to meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com. She reports that rainfall for the month of December in Mato Grosso, the country's top soybean producing state, was less than 35% of normal, which resulted in a 200 to 300 millimeter moisture deficit. Martell reports that temperatures were also 5° to 7°F above normal for the month. She continues that the intense December dryness also affected the Brazilian states of Goias, Bahia, Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso do Sul.
Martell notes that recent heavy rainfall is now improving the situation as is a retreat in temps to more normal levels. Nevertheless, she believes the December drought likely damaged some of the soybean yield potential.
Meanwhile, Martell says a favorably drier weather pattern and increased sunshine in Argentina is improving corn crop prospects in Buenos Aires, the country's top production region. Heavy rainfall at 150% to 200% of normal in northern and western areas of Buenos Aires likely prevented all of the intended corn acres from being planted, however.
U.S. BEEF & PORK EXPORTS ON PACE FOR YEARLY RECORDS... U.S. pork exports for the first 11 months of 2012 remain ahead of the record-setting pace of 2011, and the value of beef exports are still slightly above 2011 record levels, according to U.S. Meat Export Federation's (USMEF) analysis of USDA statistics. Pork exports through November remain ahead of 2011 levels by 2% in volume (2.076 MMT) and 5% in value ($5.8 billion). Beef exports are down 11% in volume for the year, but the value of these exports at $5.05 billion is still up 2% from last year's record level.
For the month of November, pork exports declined 7.7% in terms of volume and 5.4% in terms of value compared to year-ago. However, USMEF points out that November 2011 ranks as the second-best month in history (behind October 2012) for U.S. pork exports. Beef exports for November fell 1% in value for the month of November on a 13.3% drop in volume from last year. Get more details.
VILSACK TO MAINTAIN POSITION AS HEAD OF USDA... President Barack Obama is expected to officially ask Tom Vilsack to stay on for a second term as Secretary of Agriculture today, though the official announcement has not yet been made. Vilsack is a former Democratic Iowa governor who today is speaking at the annual American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Nashville. This decision is not surprising as the Obama administration has kept Vilsack front and center and recent comments from Vilsack have taken a tone of one who expects to maintain the role of Secretary of Ag.