6 September 1996

UK harvest two-tier

A TWO-TIER harvest is emerging, according to merchants Dalgety, with the southern half of the country producing a high quality, high yielding wheat crop, while the northern half is hit by rain.

Samples taken before the rains show moisture up 1.5% and proteins for class 1 and 2 varieties down 0.3%. But with 2% less screenings and high bushel weights, after a long growing season with low disease pressure, this wheat should find ready markets.

But, warns Dalgety trading director, Andrew Barnard, there is still about 60% of the crop to be gathered in north England and Scotland, and this has been jeopardised by the rain. "The quality of our wheat harvest is fundamental to the export market which needs high bushel weights and good Hag-bergs. In this view we are very concerned about the crop that is still unharvested. Any deterioration could undermine our current competitiveness against the French."

As such, Dalgety is urging growers not to mix poorer quality wheat harvested after the rains with better quality grain in store.

Meanwhile, the trade has seen some fall in values this week, with ex-farm feed wheat trading at about £102/t on Wednesday (September 4). According to James Marshall of Usborne, this is due to the resumption of harvesting in parts of the country, a strengthening of sterling in the foreign exchanges and the effects of recent rains on potential quality.

So far this season there has been good export demand, he says, with the UK the preferred origin. &#42