11 September 2001
Harvest 2001: Price, yield languish

By Tom Allen-Stevens and Tom Hood

WITH the combines rolling back into their sheds across the south, growers are looking at their barns and looking at the market. Neither is a pretty sight.

FARMERS WEEKLY southern barometer grower Tim Lock in W Sussex has finished harvest. “Im pleased to have finished. Its best we put this one behind us.”

“In comparison to the last 10 years, its certainly the worst in terms of quality and quantity,” says John Smith of Weald Granary in Kent.

Yields in Kent are generally down and quality plummeted with the poor weather. Despite harvest being virtually over, theres still space in store.

“Weve got another 4000t to fill, thats about 10%,” he told FARMERS WEEKLY on Tuesday (11 September).

He estimates that 80% of the spring barley will go for feed. Its failed on germination, discolouring, splits and skins. You name it, its got it.”

Ted Bird in the South Wests Cannington Grain has a name for the later barleys. “They are what my father called Cuckoo barleys. Planted late and not a lot there.”

He is definitely going to be short of wheat in store, by about 15%, he predicts. Less area has been drilled and yields are down by 20-25% in some cases.

“Wheat [supply] is going to be very tight. A lot of farmers are holding onto it, as there is no pressure on the barn, and waiting for the 80/t for the feed.”

But growers may have a long wait as a number of market reports are indicating that cheap imports will keep a lid on prices.

The Dalgety market report, released today, reports UK wheat prices coming under pressure from cheap Danish and German feed wheat.

It is being offered aggressively and capturing what little export demand is available across Europe, discounting even Eastern European wheat.

Much may be attracted into the UK, where domestic prices are currently too dear to export grain, says Dalgetys Trevor Harriman.

The UK market could resemble a revolving door, sucking in exports in the early part of the season, and re-exporting it later, he says.

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