Wheat production down on five-year average

Wheat production is down on the five-year average by about 400,000t, according to results of a NFU members’ survey.

Despite wheat planting being up 6% this year, the survey results reveal that lower yields this harvest have resulted in a similar sized-crop to last year, at around 13.5m tonnes.

NFU combinable crops chairman Ian Backhouse said: “I believe this year’s yield decrease was largely due to poor growing conditions last spring, with the lowest rainfall for the first half of the year in 80 seasons.

“Responses have pointed to a relatively large variability in yields often linked to soil type and capacity to hold water. Towards the latter part of harvest, at the end of August and in September, there was more variability in quality where summer rains prevented farmers keeping up with ripening crops.

“Much of the quality milling crop was harvested and dried before exposure to prolonged rainfall.

“With a very dry spring and harvest disrupted by summer rains in 2010, farmers invested in grain drying to protect quality and overcame a challenging season.

“Drying costs have again been significant, and farmers have invested millions in drying to preserve grain quality. Quality is reported as good, with high protein levels and good specification achieved by wheat growers across the country.

“Many are reporting crops weighing heavier and high bushel weights are partly compensating for lower volume harvested.”

• Latest figures for the 2010/11 Australian harvest put the wheat crop up 13% to 25.1m tonnes, which will allow Australia to gain export trade on the back of Russia’s export ban.

• Wheat futures prices ended today (Tuesday 14 September) up 75p/t at £162.50/t delivered for November.