Despite fears over the effects of the extremely hot, dry summer weather, wheat yields and quality appear to have held up surprisingly well, grain traders reported on Tuesday [8 August].

Growers were generally pleased with yields, Wessex Grain trading director Owen Cligg said.

“Most are reporting average to better than average yields.

If it had not been for the drought it would have been interesting.”

Cambridgeshire-based Camgrain’s Phil Darke agreed.

“Quality is good, yield is good.

Some people are suggesting we would have had record yields if it hadn’t been for the burning-up weather.”

About 50% of the wheat area had been cut, he suggested.

“We’ve had about 60,000t of Group 1s or Solstice in.”

Nationally about 30% of the wheat crop had been harvested, Frontier’s Simon Christensen estimated.

“East Anglia is the furthest forward with 50-60% done, while parts of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire are only just starting.”

Lighter land yields had suffered where crops had droughted off in the hot weather, he noted.

“But first wheats, which we’re just getting into, on decent land, are yielding average or slightly better at this stage.”

Solstice and Cordiale looked to have good yields, but in some cases it was at the expense of proteins, which were falling to about 12%.

In comparison, Hereward yields were being shown up, but its quality was looking excellent across the whole milling spec, he said.

While Hereward was having a good year after a couple of indifferent ones, Malacca was having problems with specific weights, Gleadell wheat trader Chris Spratt said.

“We’ve got some bushel weights down at 70kg/hl, which will rule some crops out for milling.”

Specific weight problems for Malacca were a common issue across the country.

“It is struggling on bushel weights and screenings,” Mr Christensen confirmed.

He suggested the variety’s bushel weights could be as low as 68-73kg/hl, although some samples were making the milling spec, usually 76kg/hl.

“But it is making growers question whether the variety should be used again.”

The other disappointment was milling wheat premiums collapsing, Mr Darke said.

“They’re disappearing – at least in the short term.”

The earliness of harvest was part of the problem, Mr Christensen said.

“It has meant there has been little demand for new crop due to old crop stocks existing in the UK.”

Milling premiums had suffered as a consequence, but the picture could change when the overall quality of the national crop became clearer, he said.

“With the [quality issues with] Malacca and Solstice, don’t expect all the samples to make milling spec, which could lead to support for increased premiums at some stage.”

mike.abram@rbi.co.uk