Get grain tested on farm, look for opportunities to clean and blend and where possible, negotiate fallbacks before it leaves the farm.

This advice from grain consultant Richard Whitlock reflects the challenges of placing this year’s wheat harvest. The variability of deductions for failure to meet contract specifications reflected the range of homes and uses for grain of varying quality, as well as the cost of substituting alternative products to make up compound feeds in particular, he said.

NFU senior crop advisor Guy Gagen has questioned penalties greater than £1/kg on specific weight and said that the trade needed to provide clearer answers on the reasons for the variability of deductions.

“Scales of charges are being adapted as more is known about the currently uncertain crop. Earlier on, the fallbacks were higher and step-changes introduced to discourage very, very low bushel weight appearing at all at intakes expecting higher quality.”
Guy Gagen, NFU

“Scales of charges are being adapted as more is known about the currently uncertain crop. Earlier on, the fallbacks were higher and step-changes introduced to discourage very, very low bushel weight appearing at all at intakes expecting higher quality.”

A premium market is opening up with new contracts offering bonuses for feed wheat that is two points or more above the standard 72kg, he said.

Those who could not deliver grain of the contract quality were in a weak position as they were in breach of contract, said Mr Whitlock. They could consider asking their merchant for cash settlement or should try and negotiate fallbacks before the grain leaves the farm, rather than when it is at intake, with the associated risks of redirection charges.

Force majeure could not be relied upon as a result of the effect of weather on grain production – if the weather had caused some other unforeseen problem affecting delivery of a contract, such as a grain store fire, then force majeure would give an extension to allow parties time to remedy a problem, said Mr Whitlock.

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