Rapeseed exports are more than double those of last year and cereal shipments have got off to a good start too, although lower than in 2010.

DEFRA figures show that almost 170,000t of oilseed rape left the UK in July and August, compared with 84,446t in the same period last year. This all went to other EU member states and traders expect that the figure could grow to 500,000t by the end of this year.

This would account for two-thirds of the UK’s exportable surpluses, estimated at around 750,000t, from an oilseed rape crop of 2.8m tonnes.

“Crush margins have been best in the nearby positions,” said Jonathan Lane of Gleadell.

He was “cautiously friendly” towards the oilseed rape market but said that the market was tricky. Although the EU needed to import oilseed rape and the Australian crop looked expensive, a big move in soya bean prices or in the oil market could weigh on rape prices.

Spot oilseed rape prices were holding steady at £350 to £350/t (TBC) ex-farm as Farmers Weekly went to press on Wednesday 19 October.

Wheat and barley exports have also been mainly to the EU. Although wheat exports at 280,000t in July and August of this year were 40% lower than during the same period in 2010, these would have risen to between 500,000t and 600,000t by the end of September, said Mr Lane.

Traders think that wheat exports could reach 1m tonnes by the end of 2011, but with an exportable surplus of up to 2.6m tonnes, this would leave a big chunk of business to do next year.

At 15.4m tonnes, some think that the DEFRA wheat crop estimate is on the topside.

The accuracy of this estimate and the entry (or otherwise) of the UK biofuel plants into this market in 2012 will play a big part in prices in the remainder of this crop marketing year.

Although UK wheat was competitive within the EU and there was some good demand, the big problem at the moment was lack of farmer selling, said Mr Lane.

A high proportion of early selling of both oilseed rape and wheat had reduced cashflow pressure for growers, who were also busy with fieldwork.

This has meant that range between November feed wheat futures and ex-farm prices reducing to its narrowest range ever at just £1 to £3/t, depending on region.

Cambridgeshire-based co-op Fengrain has loaded 27 coasters so far this season, each taking between 1,800 to 3,000t, comprising 12 oilseed rape cargoes, two barley and the remainder quality wheats, said marketing director Rob Munro.

“I don’t think the Wash ports have ever been so busy,” he said. Exports got off to a very brisk start with the Germans and the Dutch very aggressive buyers,” he said.

“We have got top notch quality and that has made exporting easier; there is a lot of grain booked to go out in November.” However, demand further ahead was quieter and freight was not as readily available as it had been earlier in the season.