15 June 2001

Quiet response to positive planting figures

THERE has been little market reaction to the latest HGCA figures that suggest UK cereal plantings are likely to be higher than expected.

Preliminary results from the organisations 2001 planting survey suggest that 1.7m hectares (4.2m acres) of wheat have been drilled, a 17.6% decrease on last year.

However, this is at the top end of earlier predictions that ranged as low as 1.34m hectares (3.3m acres).

Given an estimated 5% drop in yields this will put the total UK wheat harvest at around 13m tonnes, but Dalgetys Trevor Harriman says the effect on the market will be fairly neutral.

"These figures are not a million miles away from what we expected.

"Even if there is an exportable surplus it is not going anywhere – on the EU market our wheat is £2/t too dear compared with French November prices, and against North American wheat we are $7.5 more expensive."

The HGCAs survey is based on 5000 questionnaires sent out to producers and so far about 2200 have been returned.

Economist Rupert Somerscales says the final tally should be available by mid-July but expects no surprises. "There may be regional variations but overall I think the current figures are pretty representative."

Total grain and oilseed plantings extended to 3m hectares (7.4m acres), a decrease on 2000 of 6.3%. Not surprisingly spring barley was well up at 0.71m hectares (1.75m acres), a surge of 51.1%.

Oilseed rape has also gained – 0.38m hectares (0.94m acres) of the crop has gone in the ground, a hike of 15.7%. &#42