Wheat production is below the five-year average, according to results of a NFU members’ survey.


Although the planted area increased by 6%, lower yields meant total production would be about 13.5m tonnes – similar to last year but 400,00t below the average.

“I believe this year’s yield decrease was largely due to poor growing conditions last spring, with the lowest rainfall for the first half of the year in 80 seasons,” said NFU combinable crops chairman, Ian Backhouse.

Yields had been very variable, depending on soil type and capacity to hold water. 

“Towards the latter part of harvest, at the end of August and in September, there was more variability in quality, where summer rains prevented farmers keeping up with ripening crops.”

However, much of the top quality milling crop was harvested and dried before exposure to prolonged rainfall.

“With a very dry spring and harvest disrupted by summer rains in 2010, farmers invested in grain drying to protect quality and overcame a challenging season.
 
“Drying costs have again been significant, and farmers have invested millions in drying to preserve grain quality,” said Mr Backhouse.

“Quality is reported as good, with high protein levels and good specification achieved by wheat growers across the country. 

“Many are reporting crops weighing heavier and high bushelweights are partly compensating for lower volume harvested.”