This harvest’s oilseed rape crop could be almost 30% down on last year, according to the latest prediction from United Oilseeds.

Poor establishment and lower planted area last autumn mean the UK crop is likely to be about 1.4-1.5m tonnes, some 400,000t below last year’s 1.9m tonne crop, the firm’s trading manager Owen Cligg said.

“Some crops were looking patchy, but have compensated well and should see reasonable yields, but there are still some very patchy crops, especially further north. I expect to see some variable yields this harvest.”

Parts of eastern Europe – especially Poland, Hungary and Ukraine – had also seen some drought-related problems this season, but France and Germany were expected to have a good harvest, he said, which could wipe out some of the potential upward price pressure. For UK growers, the strengthening of sterling relative to the euro could also remove some of the upward price movements in euro terms, he added.

“In theory there is upward [price] pressure, but there’s a lot of old crop wheat in store and we could find more rape crops sold at harvest as growers look to ease space and cash flow,” he said.

Old crop prices at the time of writing were about £272/t, with new crop at £265-270/t. This compares with £300/t this time last year.