By FWi staff

GRAIN prices have improved since the first half of the season when trade talk of a record UK crop suggested a massive export surplus.

In July, UK grain prices had slumped to under £65/ tonne as French farmers competing for exports harvested a huge wheat crop of about 38.5m tonnes.

In fact, year-on-year cereal production across the whole of the European Union climbed 2% to 208m tonnes and world wheat output was forecast to be the second highest ever.

But prices climbed despite the bearish outlook and the strong pound, which had initially suggested a tough season ahead.

Feed wheat is now worth £75-76/t, with the barley price slightly higher still.

As usual crop quality was the key to success, and the fact that most grain was cut in reasonable conditions allowed UK farmers to compete effectively for exports.

Milling wheat trends, 1998
Feed wheat trends, 1998 The specific weight for wheat averaged 76kg/hl at a protein content of 10.5% and a Hagberg Falling Number of 266.

The late harvest stirred the market in August, and impetus was added with early export activity.

Then, in October, official estimates put barley at 6.6m tonnes and revised the wheat crop downwards by 1m tonnes to 15.4m tonnes.

Meanwhile, Sterling slipped by 5% against the Deutschmark and the market firmed before treading water at its current levels of £75-76/t.