Crystal Balls

Following a period of settled weather, harvest in Yorkshire is well under way.  Flea beetle and a wet flooded autumn, followed by dry baking hot March, April and May has done nothing for the quality and yield of harvest 2020 so far.  With the odd exception of some stellar performing crops Oilseed Rape yields have in the most part been very poor and some way behind the long-term averages.

Winter barley crops have fared little better.  Whilst grain sample kilo weights have been pretty good nitrogen content in the malting barley samples have tended to be on the high side, with a significant proportion being consigned to the feed barley bin. Crops that struggled in autumn and lost tillers in spring have overall been thin and way behind yield levels that for most would under normal circumstances be considered cost effective.

At the time of writing only a few combines have made it into the wheat fields and farm samples seen in this office would suggest some very good quality, kilo weights of 80 and above, usable protein levels though out the range and decent Hagberg. But once again yields on the early crops appear to be below average.

So, what is your crystal ball telling you regarding price and market strategy?  Is your crystal clear in its view that poor local yields on an already reduced winter cereal area will see prices rally?  Whilst viewing the recent £10 per tonne fall in the November Liffe wheat futures as a blip and not a long-term trend. 

Or regardless of potential yield and quality had your crystal already prompted you to make some sales at earlier values around the £170 per tonne level for wheat. Sure, in the knowledge that historically that was a huge price and way over any previous year’s average sale values.

Or is the crystal cloudy.  Unable to reconcile poor Yorkshire/UK crops with the wider World where a predicted record wheat and maize crop awaits.  Several of our National millers have already bought large amounts of foreign, quality milling wheat to secure mill supply at levels below recent UK quoted prices.  Our animal feed mills have where possible bought early quantities of cheap maize to reduce reliance on wheat and take advantage of cheap feed barley which has been lagging some £40 per tonne in price below Yorkshire feed wheat.

No matter how clear or cloudy your crystal ball may be, now harvest is under way, the priority must be to know what quality you have in the store.  Pick up the phone and make an appointment for one of our team to come and professionally sample your grain and discuss potential market opportunities.  Market price information feeding into the farm office and a crystal ball with a clear strategy is all well and good, but useless if you do not know what you have to sell.

One last thought, regardless of what your crystal is telling you for crop 2020, the market is already betting that you will all drill lots of acres of winter wheat for harvest 2021.  London wheat futures are therefore trading harvest 2021 crop wheat at approximately £140 per tonne. This is important because whatever you put in the barn now, come next August will only be worth the same as the new 2021 crop!

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