A field of oilseed rape in flower© Cultura/REX/Shutterstock

Oilseed rape prices lost ground in the week ending 15 March, falling £2.80/t to average £346.40/t ex-farm for spot delivery.

Despite being dragged down by weaker US soya bean values, prices remained £92.90/t higher than the same week last year.

UK rapeseed imports for the season so far (July-January) hit their highest level since 2013-14.

In January alone, the UK imported just over 18,000t of rapeseed – largely from France – taking the season total to 61,500t.

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This was a 27% increase over the same period last year, said Jack Watts, lead analyst at AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds.

However, the UK was a net exporter of rapeseed until January, with exports for the season to date totalling 74,800t – leading to a net balance of 13,300t.

This was slightly unexpected given the tight supply of UK rapeseed this season, which had supported domestic prices, said Mr Watts.

In global markets, palm oil prices are predicted to decline in the second half of 2017 on the back of a recovery in production, says Helen Plant, senior analyst at AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds.

A fall in palm oil prices is likely to put pressure on new crop rapeseed values.