Grain prices hold in quiet market

Feed and milling wheat prices have firmed by just over £1/t this week, with few farmers showing any pressure to sell into a quiet market.

Farmers Weekly’s Friday price collection from regional merchants produced an average of £164/t ex-farm for feed wheat and £162.60/t for feed barley.

The full spec milling wheat premium narrowed slightly over the week to less than £9/t.

Prices have been supported somewhat by a struggling sterling, as Brexit uncertainty hangs over the market.

In the UK futures market, the May 2019 feed wheat contract was down a little on the day at £174/t by lunchtime on Friday (30 November) while new crop was up slightly at £158.5/t on the November 2019 contract.

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Grain consumers are buying little and it is hoped that a slowing of Russian export pace may offer EU exporters a chance for more business.

Recent export sales have boosted US forward prices but exports are down 19% year-on-year against the US Department of Agriculture’s forecast for a 14% rise.

Grain market pointers

  • Despite the closure of the Vivergo bioethanol plant and the temporary shutdown at Teesside-based Ensus, wheat availability is set to be tight, with a smaller crop in 2018, higher demand from the animal feed sector, lower imports and smaller stocks at the start of the season
  • The UK barley surplus is forecast at just 960,000t, down 32% from 2017/18 and the smallest since 2012/13 mainly because of the fall in production, points out AHDB
  • Maize imports are forecast to hit 2.105m tonnes (a five-year high) due to its price competitiveness with other cereals
  • Oat supply and demand will finely balance with a smaller crop by robust milling demand
  • The International Grains Council forecasts a 20% drop in global stocks held by the main exporters by the end of the current season
  • The last 5% of US winter wheat plantings are delayed and threatened by rain, snow and falling temperatures
  • The vote on the UK’s EU withdrawal agreement on 11 December is likely to affect markets
  • Also on 11 December, the US Department of Agriculture will release its next set of global supply and demand projections
  • Wheat, winter barley and oat areas are all likely to be up for harvest 2019, according to AHDB’s Early Bird Survey –  the total GB wheat area for harvest 2019 is forecast to rise by 4% to 1.86m ha, the highest wheat area since 2014
  • Winter barley area is expected to rise by 13% to 444,000ha, while the area of spring barley is set to fall 3% to 735,000ha, the first drop since 2014
  • The oats area is projected to rise by 9%, on top of a rise last year and taking the crop area up by 50% since 2015
  • The oilseed rape area is expected to fall 3% to 582,000ha