New-crop grain values pick up as uncertainty mounts

New-crop grain prices are moving closer to old-crop values as continued uncertainty over Ukrainian crop prospects unsettles the market.

UK November 2022 feed wheat futures reached a new high of £293/t last week and stood at £287/t as Farmers Weekly went to press on 20 April.

Midweek, new-crop feed wheat was worth between £266/t and £280/t ex-farm for harvest, with the lower end of the range offered in the South East and the higher end in Lincolnshire. November values were between £5/t and £8/t above these levels.

See also: How Ukraine war will impact its farming – agronomist’s view

Wheat, barley and maize markets all have bullish outlooks and, as old-crop supplies dwindle, many grain consumers are reluctant to commit at high new-crop prices.

Even without the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the fundamentals of the wheat market are tight, with dry conditions in key US growing regions one of the main concerns. 

Frontier Agriculture origination grain trader Zoe Andrew said: “Markets don’t like uncertainty and there is a range of different views on the prospects for the Ukrainian crop.”

With crops looking promising at this stage, UK growers have been selling new-crop little and often into the recent rallies, said Ms Andrew, with commitment levels slightly higher than would normally be the case.

Old-crop wheat has picked up some export business recently and this had pushed values up again.

However, old-crop was generally quiet this week, with export demand for barley but very little supply.

US crop concerns

The latest US winter wheat crop rating of only 30% good to excellent is the lowest at this point in the season since 1996.

It was a drop on the previous week’s assessment, and only the fourth time ratings in that week have been lower than 33% good to excellent in US records dating from the late 1980s.

US maize plantings are slightly behind average, restricted by cold weather.

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