Mid-September, the ‘harvest moon’ is on its back, keeping the water off and the combine harvesters in Yorkshire are hard at work in the last of the wheat and spring barley crops.  This last week has seen the best few settled days of weather we have had in a month.

The struggle to get the wheat harvest into the barn has kept prices on farm for spot movement very firm.  Merchants have battled to keep Mills supplied and at times the only way to do this has been to pay more to encourage dry wheat from the farm. Or alternatively in the case of some larger merchants, buy boat loads of Danish, Swedish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian feed wheat or German Milling wheat and bring them into the Humber or Tees at less money than was being paid for Yorkshire wheat on farm.  Hence feed wheat peaked on farm at the end of last week at £178 per tonne for a quick September move. The spat between our own Government and the European Union over the exit deal, altered the playing field when Sterling dropped from 1.12 euro in value to 1.07 Euro in a few hours.  This combined with the better weather over the weekend has seen wheat prices retreat from their peak.  

Spring barley harvest has been difficult to put it mildly.  Samples are showing higher than usual Nitrogen content, skinning, fusarium and sprouted grains as some crops in the field have been nearly fit to harvest for a month.  The large amount feed barley now on farm has seen barley trading at nearly £50/tonne discount to wheat.

Looking forward some in the trade are already forecasting that London Liffe May 2021 wheat will soon be trading at a discount to November 2020 Liffe.  Others will counter that possible import tariffs in the New Year will push prices higher still.

What is for certain is that there is currently a lot of uncertainty in the UK grain market. No one knows for certain how much stock was carried over from last year. Or how much wheat and maize has thus far arrived in the UK or has been bought and due to arrive over the next three months.  The size of the UK harvest in total available tonnes will not be known for some time, despite any one’s best guess! Economically the value of Sterling will undoubtedly play a large part in any further imports of wheat or maize or the export of large amounts of feed barley.  Politics, Brexit, the dreaded Virus, and the Weather for this coming autumn sowing window are further variables.  Nothing is certain and no one can say with certainty what Yorkshire feed wheat will be worth in a month, never mind next June! What is for certain is that there will be few if any out there that have ever averaged over £175 per tonne for their annual wheat sales.  This is currently available ex farm and as the saying goes ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’. 

Alternatively, if you are sat in front of Jeremy Clarkson, on ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire’ with £500,000 but no lifelines.  Do you guess the answer to the £1Million question: – In which month will UK feed wheat be £200 per tonne?  Answer:  A – November, B-January, C-June, D- Never. Or do you take the £175/ tonne.  Move on, start drilling and sell some £150/tonne September 2021.

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