Better wheat quality and yields bring fall in prices

Wheat prices have continued their rollercoaster ride, losing ground after the weekend before posting a slight recovery on Wednesday.

November wheat futures fell almost £4.50/t in the first two days of the week, closing on Tuesday at £80.90/t.

They steadied on Wednesday, closing up 10p/t on limited trading.

Supply and demand are now influencing the market, rather than last week’s speculative buying.

That was fuelled by drought fears and had pushed up values by £7/t.

The change in sentiment was triggered by better-than-expected yields and quality both in early-cut UK crops and in the Paris Basin, France’s breadbasket.

Simon Ingle, head of milling wheat at Grainfarmers, said interest had waned after a week of strong buying.

“Early signs are of pleasing yields in the UK, and in northern France yields and quality have been much better than was first feared.

Consequently, concern has waned.

“The market needs to find a trading level.

But, with a backdrop of reduced end-of-year global stocks, possible drought in the southern hemisphere and increased market demands, volatility, albeit at a reduced level, is likely to continue,” he added.

Most farmers have been busy clearing oilseed rape and barley crops over the past few days.

In England, most of the winter barley crop was completed midweek with few problems reported.

Centaur Grain’s Adrian Fisher reports above average yields in the winter crop, and good quality, too.

“We’ve seen a tighter range than last year, at 1.65-2%N, with about 58% of Pearl samples coming in at 1.8%N or below.”

But spring barleys appear to be much more variable, with early-drilled crops delivering the goods, unlike some later-sown ones.

Some Optic had no trouble meeting the 85% retention on a 2mm sieve, but most Cocktail was struggling, with some retentions as low as 65%.

“Maltsters are going to have to look at their calibrations if they want to use Cocktail.

They may have to use more winter barley this year.”

Continental values have climbed €6/t over the past week, with anxious German buyers attracting few sellers.

But the UK will have to wait for any benefit as maltsters sort out their forward contracts first.

Typical winter barley values were 77-78/t on-farm midweek, merchants paying a pound more for spring varieties.

“There is no spot market yet,” said Mr Fisher.

“We won’t see that until we know what the spring crop has delivered.

Once maltsters use what they have in East Anglia, they will look further afield.

Then prices will be influenced by exports.”

Despite the hot weather, traders report some problems in oilseed rape, where harvest was approaching the halfway stage across the south of the country on Wednesday.

Last week’s rush was stalled, as some later-cut crops were found to be not quite fit, or by high temperatures, which over-dried seed and forced some growers to avoid combining in the middle of the day.

At least prices remain stable at £160-£162/t, and seem well supported.