Arable farmers need to confirm cropping plans soon and book the necessary inputs quickly, before prices increase further.
“This is completely the wrong thing to do,” said Mr Elsdon. “The rise in input costs shows no signs of slowing and farmers should decide now which crops to grow.”
A key aim should be a high gross margin. Not surprisingly perhaps, Mr Elsdon pointed out that a recent analysis by United Oilseeds of variable costs versus gross output for a range of winter crops has shown that oilseed rape was one of the most profitable, only just beaten by first feed wheats.
“Our analysis of the estimated gross margins for the 2009 harvest has shown that a field of oilseed rape could earn a gross margin of £710/ha. This compares very favourably to returns from harvests in recent years and is nearly as competitive as first feed wheat at £744,” he said.
He also advised growers to sell their crop forward as early as possible whilst prices remain firm and to buy their fertiliser requirements at the same time.
“Farmers will lock in a price for their crop that will achieve a sustainable margin and at the same time fix the price of their nitrogen which is likely to remain their biggest and most volatile cost,” said Mr Elsdon.