Wheat trade questions HGCA
THE grain trade has expressed its "disbelief" at plantings figures from the Home Grown Cereals Authority which put the UK wheat area up by just 2.4%.
"With the open autumn, the cut in set-aside and based on our own seed sales we are convinced there is more wheat in the ground than this," said one merchant. MAFFs December census also points to a 6.5% rise.
According to the HGCAs figures, based on returns from 3400 farmers, the total UK cereal area is up 4.3% at 3.16m hectares (7.79m acres). Of this, wheat accounts for 1.86m hectares (4.58m acres) – up just 2.4% – while the barley area has increased 7.7% to 1.19m hectares (2.95m acres).
Based on last years yields, this would produce a wheat crop of 13.47m tonnes compared with the 13.14m tonnes in 1994.
The rise in cereal plantings has been partly offset by the drop in oilseed rape plantings, included in the survey for the first time. These have fallen an estimated 6.2%, due to the 17% cut in aid rates from penalties last season.
But overall, the total area of cereals, oilseeds and pulses is thought to have increased by 2.4% this season.
This is still less than the 3% cut in set-aside, but this the HGCA attributes to the late announcement of this measure.
lDespite trade claims that these figures under-estimate the volume of wheat to come, the market outlook remains bullish. At about 8m tonnes, EU interventions stocks are less than half last years levels and the world market also remains tight. *
UK cereal area 1994 and 1995 (000ha)
England & WalesScotlandN IrelandUK% change
Source: Home Grown Cereals Authority.