2 August 2002

Good yields so far and big wheat crop on way

MUCH of the UKs oilseed rape crop and a good proportion of the winter barley has now been harvested with good yields and reasonable quality reported from most parts of the country.

But farmers are already having to clear their barns in readiness for the predicted bumper wheat crop, forcing those with not enough storage to accept unexciting values on the spot market.

"Many are having to choose between the rape or the barley but the temptation is to go for the rape," says Shropshire Grain director Julian Walker.

With feed barley spot values hovering just above £50/t, the trader says it makes sense to hold off selling until November when intervention prices of about £57/t will put a bottom in the market. Even with its malting premium, Pearl barley is still only making £55/t, which he says is not tempting many growers.

Rape is trading at the £133/t mark, but for those with space most merchants are offering a carry of at least £10/t for Christmas delivery. Philip Kimber, national rape trader at Banks Cargill, says despite the increased crop size, prospects for forward values are firm with Canadian and Australian crops hit by poor weather and the US soya market tight.

But the ks rally against the $ is not helping, he adds. "The timing has not been good. Farmers are not seeing the fuller value of oilseeds." Mr Kimber is predicting a UK crop approaching 1.4m tonnes, based on yields of about 3.7t/acre (1.5t/acre), although yields of almost 5t/ha (2t/acre) are not uncommon, according to one Lincs/Yorks merchant.

The recent spate of bad weather has delayed the wheat harvest and a number of grain traders have already expressed concern that Hagberg values could fall, with milling wheat having to be sold as feed. &#42

Roger Hudgell unloads Regina barley at Radbournbury Farm, St Albans, Herts. He plans to hold on to it until prices improve. Traders say intervention may be the best bet.