Export demand has boosted feed barley values relative to feed wheat. This has put barley values at less than £1/t under those for wheat in most regions, after having topped feed wheat prices by up to £2/t last week.

This is a turnaround from the start of the year which saw barley at an average £25/t discount to wheat.

As Farmers Weekly went to press on Wednesday (1 October), feed barley was worth on average just under £100/t ex-farm. Prices ranged from £95/t in north-east Scotland to £102/t in Essex, Hertfordshire, Hampshire and other central and southern counties.

Feed wheat was in a slightly wider range from £98/t to £108/t, with the top end of the range in north- east Scotland, Northumberland and the Borders.

The demand for feed barley was mainly to destinations outside the EU, such as North Africa and the Middle East, said Jack Watts, HGCA lead analyst for cereals and oilseeds. Barley was their preferred feed grain but the distances involved meant only large cargoes were economically viable.

This could create premiums around ports which could handle vessels up to 50,000t, such as Tilbury, Portbury and Newcastle. The wider gap between wheat and barley prices in Scotland is explained by its lack of ports able to handle such large cargoes.

A relatively high carryover of feed barley into this cereal year helped supply much of the 98,000t of barley shipped in July – the highest level of barley exports for the month since 2003.