UK wheat crop below five-year average at 14.1m tonnes, says Defra

The 2018 UK wheat crop is down 5.1% on last year, while barley production fell by 7.9%, according to provisional Defra figures.

It is estimated that the total wheat crop is just under 14.1m tonnes, below the five-year average for 2013-2017 of 14.8m tonnes.

The total barley crop is forecast to be 6.6m tonnes, again below the five-year average of 7m tonnes.

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The drop is being attributed to the high spring rainfall, followed by the long, dry summer, which caused a wide range in yields across the UK.

Results of an NFU survey, released last week, pointed to average wheat yields falling to 7.7t/ha, the first time it has dipped below 8t/ha in the past five years.

Fuller results, including yield and area data for wheat and barley, along with details of the size of the oilseed rape crop, will be published by Defa on 11 October.

The AHDB is also expected to release its first official 2018-19 balance sheet estimates within the next few days, which will provide commentary on the factors influencing supply and demand.

Little effect on the market

Cecilia Pryce, market analyst for Openfield, said the Defra barley figure was perhaps on the low side and the wheat figure was slightly higher than some people had anticipated, but not enough to shock the market.

“Another thing that needs to be taken into account, is that they have standardised the estimates at a 14.5% moisture content, but the majority of the crop was harvested at less moisture than that,” she said.

“You won’t find 14m tonnes in barns – there is less physical grain.”

Mark Smith, grain director at Saxon, agreed the figure was at the top end of what the trade had been expecting for wheat production.

“The trade had a figure of 13.7mt up to more than 14m tonnes in mind, so while it is at the top end, is it pretty much where people thought it would be.

“The market will take this in its stride.”

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