8 November 1996

Harvest value overestimated

PRE-HARVEST predictions on the likely size and value of this years wheat crop showed a misplaced optimism, according to results of a survey by Lincs-based co-op, Viking Cereals.

Over 400 visitors to Cereals 96 and the Driffield Show in July were asked to predict the size of MAFFs first harvest estimate and the wheat futures closing price on Nov 1.

The results were startling in their inaccuracy.

Some 60% of respondents put the wheat crop at less than 15m tonnes compared with the actual figure of 15.9m.

Predictions on price were even more wayward, with almost 90% believing November wheat would be worth between £110 and £130/t. Less than 2% thought prices would drop below £100, whereas the actual Nov 1 closing value was just £94.75. "This just shows how things can change," said Viking chairman, Oscar Spencer.

And, disproving the theory that farmers know their trade best, the most accurate entry came from York-based furniture maker John Thompson. His predictions were just 7% out, compared with a 21% margin of error for the nearest farmer, winning him a case of champagne. &#42