Wednesday, 24 October, 2001

By Tom Allen-Stevens

THIS years UK wheat crop is the smallest since 1983, cutting export availability to less than a third of the usual amount.

The first balance sheet figures of the season were released by the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs on Wednesday (24 October).

  Wheat Barley Total Cereals
Thousand tonnes 00/01 01/02 00/01 01/02 00/01 01/02
Opening Stocks 1555 2379 1279 1126 2931 3581
Production 16,700 11,960 6490 6890 23,985 19,582
Imports 1194 1400 75 75 2845 3079

Availability

19,449

15,739

7844

8091

29,761

26,242

Human & Industrial Use 6437 6449 1955 1955 9819 9853
Animal Feed 6894 6242 3286 3356 10,868 10,190

Total Domestic Use

13,680

13,081

5461

5514

21,392

20,772

Exports 1 3390 1158 1257 1555 4788 2870
Intervention Stocks 0 11 11
Commercial 2
End-Stocks
2379 1500 1115 1022 3570 2600
1 For 01/02, exports include intervention stocks
2 Includes stocks on farm
Source: Defra
 

Wheat production for the year has been put at 11.96 million tonnes, 4.7m tonnes below last season, but on a par with the most recent estimates.

Opening stocks and imports are both forecast higher than last season, making up around 1m tonnes of the compromised production.

But this still leaves wheat availability at only 15.7m tonnes, down 3.7m tonnes on last season.

Partly offsetting is a drop in animal feed use, forecast at around 6.2m tonnes, down 0.7m tonnes as users switch to more competitive grains such as barley.

This leaves the UK with 1.2m tonnes of wheat available for export, well below the usual 3-4m tonnes.

At 6.9m tonnes the barley crop is 0.4m tonnes bigger than last season.

Much of this will be soaked up by animal feed users switching grain, leaving a total of around 1.6m tonnes available for export or intervention.

The Defra figures reflect not only the reduction in planted wheat area, but also yields well below trend as a result of the wettest season on record (since 1766).

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