UK crop values feeling the pinch

NEW CROP wheat prices have slipped to their lowest levels yet as Black Sea exports continue to undercut EU prices.

November wheat futures slid to just under £66/t on Tuesday (July 20), equating to £60-62/t ex-farm.

Values rose only 30p by late Wednesday, trading at £66.65/t.

Portuguese, Spanish and Italian consumers, traditional customers for UK grain, have already bought 90% of their pre-Christmas requirement, said James Maw of Glencore Grain.

Reports suggest Russian yields are promising, Hungary is harvesting a record crop and the Ukraine crop looks good.

These countries could offer more cheap grain into the Mediterranean in 2005, he added.

UK wheat is worth £63-65 delivered at harvest, or about £58-60/t ex-farm, and a couple of pounds more for September.

“With feed wheat worth just £47/t delivered to the port in the Black Sea, quality is going to be crucial to the outcome of our market this year,” said Mr Maw.

“The best market is the Oct-Dec domestic market, at £67/t delivered.”

The US corn crop is also weighing on the market, with record yields being forecast by some observers.

Gerald Mason of the Home-Grown Cereal‘s Authority said a big crop could set the world price for feed grains once Black Sea grain runs out.

At about £55/t delivered to port, it was still well below UK levels.

But US soft red winter wheat is worth about $145/t (£78/t) on board.

“Which market we end up getting attached to depends very much on the quality of our crop.

“The next month is going to be pretty important.”

Milling wheat prospects are brighter, with prices improving due to quality concerns.

New crop premiums now stand at £18/t above feed, according to the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

UK feed barley has settled at £54-57-ex farm for harvest, and is worth about £60-63/t for November.