Farmer Focus Arable: Robert Law scales back his sugar beet price expectations for 2011

Some welcome rain in the past week has seen the farms transformed; the sugar beet was a grateful recipient, with all fields now fully emerged.

Within two months the cycle for the 2011 beet crop will begin with contracts going out. It’s going to be a different background with a four-year deal based around a price model. The 2010 beet price was really a carry-over of the previous year’s deal which itself had been negotiated with a backdrop of fertiliser prices at record levels, fuel prices soaring and wheat prices at over £150, leading to concerns by British Sugar that a insufficient area of the crop might be sown to fulfil their requirements.

Two years later it all looks very different: Wheat, fertiliser and fuel prices are all factored into the price model and these today are all at much lower levels as we draw towards the day when the price for the 2011 beet crop will be set.

Coupled with this is a 2009 record crop which encouraged growers to plant more in 2010, leading to a insatiable demand for temporary tonnage which ended up being oversubscribed by three times. Thus price expectations for the 2011 crop need to be severely tempered, with many existing and new growers waiting in the wings to pick up any unwanted tonnage.

Looking ahead to June, I would like to welcome you to the farmfor Cereals 2010, for what I hope will be a memorable two days. Let’s hope the traffic won’t be the main talking point. We all asked after the last few events for changes to be made for parking and the organisers have been listeining, having spent a great deal of time planning the park-and-ride for this year’s event.

The key messages are: Get up early and get to the site and follow all traffic signs for Cereals; don’t try any short cuts and leave your satnavs at home.

• For more columns from Robert Law

• For more columns from other Arable Farmer Focus writers

Futures markets and commodity risk management online course:

  • Risk management strategies for a more predictable financial performance
  • Educated conversations when collaborating with your advisors
  • Negotiate better prices with your grain merchants

View course

Using contractors saves you time and money. Now you can book, track and pay all in one place. Register for early access today.

Find out more