By Olivia Cooper

GRAIN markets went very quiet last week in response to rain bringing harvest to a halt.

Wheat prices had firmed in the previous week, driven by better French markets, where 10-12% lower yields had been reported.

UK feed wheat is trading around 74/t ex-farm for spot movement, with November 4-5/t above that.

At these levels, UK wheat is too expensive to compete for exports with French, Danish and eastern European supplies.

But whether the UK needs to export at all this year remains to be seen.

Wheat harvest is only just under way, with early yields ranging from disappointing to “meeting expectations”, says Mr Whitlock.

If milling wheat quality is poor, more imports will be required, and any surplus of feed wheat will be priced into export destinations.

But quality has been reasonable so far, with early samples of Malacca and Soissons trending to slightly low bushelweights and protein.

“Millers and farmers carried larger than normal stocks of old crop milling wheat into the new season,” says Glencores Robert Kerr.

“This has taken the edge off milling demand, combined with some German milling wheat being imported to the UK.”

Group 1 wheats are fetching about 85/t ex-farm for August, with the premium widening to 15 over feed for November.

Meanwhile, winter barley harvest is about 90% complete in the South, where spring barley harvest has also started, says SCATS malting barley trader, Robert Leachman.

“Malting quality is generally extremely good, with Nitrogen content ranging from 1.5-2.0%.”

Yields have averaged 2.5-3t/ac (6.2-7.4t/ha) for winter malting varities, while spring barley seems to be coming in at about 2t/ac (5t/ha).

August premiums remain static at 5-7/t over the feed barley base of 64/t ex-farm.

“But feed barley rises to 70/t for November, so it would pay to store the grain if possible,” says Mr Leachman.

All eyes will now be on the spring crop and the Scottish harvest, both of which will be crucial in directing the course of malting premiums in the near future.