“40% increase in spring barley for Harvest 2013” – HGCA

It has been another seven days of pretty impressive price gains this week and although ex-farm prices aren’t quite were they were towards the end of last week they have firmly kept their ‘record breaking’ levels.

By this time last week (Thursday 29th November), the London wheat future for May 2013 had topped £230/T – the highest value for a tradable future ever recorded. At the time, this equated to around £225/T ex-farm for 72kg/hl feed wheat for spring collection. For movement a little earlier than this, £220-222/T ex-farm for pre-Christmas collection would have been a reasonable offer.

As for new crop wheat, the London wheat future for November 2013 soared to £200/T – the highest value for new crop wheat ever recorded. This equated to around £185/T ex-farm for movement straight off the combine – a tempting offer for those of you with well-established plants that aren’t currently underwater.

London wheat futures have however retreated from these trading levels over the last few days. Prices at this kind of level which are advancing faster than you can track them need a constant underpinning of bullish enthusiasm to keep them well supported, and without it they ultimately drift. Regardless, values remain comfortably £220/T ex-farm for January feed wheat whilst £185/T ex-farm would be achievable for September collection.

Milling premiums have continued to decline but ex-farm values have remained stable due to an improved feed wheat base price. Demand for soft varieties has picked up again for New Year coverage and prices are good value – around £245/T ex-farm.

OSR values have also firmed this week with £375/T ex-farm back on the table for January collection; not quite the mighty £400/T it once was but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for those of you with largely un-priced quantities left in the shed. Movement pre-Christmas is becoming increasingly limited, particular into the crush at Hull and must therefore be priced accordingly (to Liverpool).

Elsewhere the release of the annual “early bird survey of cropping intentions”, courtesy of the HGCA arrived last week. The survey, according to the HGCA is intended ‘to provide the industry with a brief, early snapshot of national cropping decisions’; so whilst this is only a very early idea, it sets the scene for what we could potentially expect for Harvest 2013.

Evidence for the survey is compiled by numerous agronomists who between them are responsible for more than 240,000/Ha of farmland around the UK. Figures are based purely on farmer ‘planting intentions’ so the results are really constructed (to put it simply) on a ‘if all goes to plan this is what we should see’ basis.

The results suggest a ‘significant decline in cereal and oilseed plantings on last year’. Winter wheat is expected to be 12% down on last year at 1.76M/Ha, winter barley down 9% at 385,000/Ha and winter OSR down 3% at 732,000/Ha. A late harvest (due to the wettest summer in a century) followed by poor soil conditions and a difficult drilling season are all cited as responsible for the decline in acreage.

Additionally and in line with the above, the report also suggested that spring acreage would inevitably increase and that whilst they admit it may to be too early to tell just yet – they are initially predicting at least a 40% increase on last year in spring barley at a huge 865,000/Ha (slightly worrying given that the average UK requirement for domestic malting barley – both spring and winter varieties – is just 1.9M/T).

And that’s before they have even factored in that what many growers may ‘intend’ to sow with regards to winter crops may not be entirely possible given the recent floods and on-going generally poor weather. A 40% increase could turn out to be a rather small percentage come next spring.


To view the survey results in full please see:


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