Wheat harvest©Juice/Rex Shutterstock

Defra’s first UK harvest estimate has come in at 16.129m tonnes, a 3% drop on last year and more than 550,000t lower than the NFU’s 16.68m tonnes estimate.

The yields and areas used to arrive at the Defra figure will not be released until next week (15 October) and with very variable results round the regions, traders remain cautious about putting a figure on the crop size.

Gleadell trading director Jonathan Lane said the company was working to between 16m and 16.5m tonnes.

Either of these figures would leave a large exportable surplus and with only an estimated 275,00t of wheat shipped in the first three months of the campaign, the pace needed to pick up, said Mr Lane.

See also: NFU survey puts 2015 UK wheat crop at 16.68m tonnes

“There’s a lot of wheat on farm and selling wheat pre-Christmas is not easy,” he said.

“There are some trade shorts in the market but the export side is really tough, although bits and bobs have been done.”

Ex-farm values for November feed wheat this morning (9 November) were between £107/t and £111/t, with the range having narrowed this season.

Jeff Russell of Gloucestershire-based Western Arable Services, said that anecdotal evidence of large wheat crops made him tend towards the NFU estimate.

Compounders were providing most of the interest in wheat, although port prices for wheat were gradually creeping up, he said.

“There is a bit more export interest in barley – the harvest pressure has gone and the market has moved up about £8/t since the start of August,” he said.  

The Defra estimate put the UK barley crop at 7.281m tonnes, a 5% increase on 2014.