Nerves put feed wheat on rise

Feed wheat prices have strengthened this week in an increasingly nervous market.


Recent rains across northern Europe have halted combines and concern is growing over the remaining UK crop.


Traders reckon about 10-20% of UK wheat has still to be cut and is increasingly at risk.


Glencore Grain’s Nick Oakhill said that some recent samples had been encouraging, but warned:


“We’re already seeing some sprouting in crops in the south of England.


“Northern European countries like Denmark, Germany and Poland have also been delayed by rain and still have wheat to harvest.


The French market has strengthened and our market is following.”


November feed wheat futures had risen £5.25/t on the week, he added.


Ex-farm prices have firmed nearly £5/t on the week to about £78/t in most areas, with £80/t achievable for better quality biscuit-grade wheat.


Yet traders say milling wheat premiums are fairly static at £10-£12/t, as many of the best crops were cut in July before the weather broke.


David Doyle, head of Grainfarmers’ wheat desk, said farmers were grabbing chances to cut crops between showers, so it was hard to pin down accurately the area left to harvest.


“There’s no doubt Hagbergs have suffered.


The weather band the UK has experienced has been shared by northern Europe, so there will be a lot of grain left.


Following lower yields, but better quality in southern Europe, we could be faced with a total EU crop that is well reduced.”


Frontier Agriculture’s Simon Christensen said quality in the remaining soft wheats had been hit hard.


“In most cases, Hagbergs are below 100.


But at the moment, any downward pressure on prices is being absorbed by spot trading and export demand.”


Wheat was being shipped into traditional destinations like Spain and Portugal, with new demand from Benelux countries, he said.


Trade for malting barley was said to be “flying”, as spring barley quality in other EU members states had been poor, said Glencore Grain’s Nick Oakhill.


“Already there is an aggressive export market for spring malting barley, with prices at £90/t for November movement.


In some areas, values are nearer £95/t.”


ian.ashbridge@rbi.co.uk