29 September 2000
Dalgety puts grain crop at 24m tonnes

By Robert Harris

UK cereal growers cut almost 24m tonnes of grain this harvest, according to Dalgety Arable, which released its crop estimates on Friday (29 September).

Wheat output, including an estimate for uncut areas in the north, is thought to be 16.47m tonnes, 1.6m tonnes higher than last year and only marginally lower than the NFU estimate released earlier this week.

The record crop is due to a huge 250,000ha (617,000 acre) increase in wheat plantings last autumn, combined with a national average yield of 7.88t/ha (3.19t/acre).

“A long and difficult harvest has nevertheless produced UK wheat quality which is generally good.

“Bushel weights and Hagbergs tend to be higher in all varieties compared with last year, but with similar protein levels,” says Dalgetys Trevor Harriman.

Home use is expected to stay much as last year.

Assuming the usual 1.5m tonnes carry-over of stocks and a slightly lower import requirement that leaves just over 4.6m tonnes available for export.

For the first time in many years, the surplus is better than feed, and includes over 1m tonnes of group 1 and 2 wheats.

But the UK is not the only supplier of milling wheat in Europe, he adds, and premiums may be hard to come by, especially if buyers and sellers continue to hold off.

Milling premiums for group 3 and 4 wheats have fallen from highs of 3.50/t to 50p or even parity with feed in the sport months, he notes.

“The major export market may well turn out to be one consisting of blends of group 1 and 2 wheats with group 3s and 4s which will improve the UKs competitiveness for better quality grain.”

Barley crop estimates are put at 6.55m tonnes.

Good, bold samples suggest 80% of winter malting varieties and 90% of the spring crop will meet malting specification.

EU and Eastern Europe both had difficult harvests and are showing a keen interest, keeping values buoyant, he adds.

Poor weather and lower plantings have resulted in an oilseed crop of 1.177m tonnes, more than 0.5m tonnes below last year, says Mr Harriman.