The Grain Column with Emma Croft

Emma Croft, farm trader at Anderson Grain Marketing Limited.
Emma Croft, farm trader at Anderson Grain Marketing Limited.

As mid September approaches and the first signs of autumn begin to show, many farmers are keen to make the most of this week’s weather and combine the remainder of this year’s harvest.

I would estimate that the majority of this year’s winter wheat crop has now been cut locally, and most have at least made a start with their spring barley crops.

Winter wheat yields have been extremely variable this year; some growers have been left disappointed with crops struggling to reach the three tonne per acre mark whilst others have seen a report performance of last year with yields approaching five tonne per acre. On average, I think it would be safe to say that most are achieving somewhere in the region of 3.5 to 4 tonnes per acre.

However, we do appear to be seeing a notable difference between first wheat’s which were sown into good, well established seed beds, and second wheat’s which were later sown in very wet and cold conditions. Anecdotal reports would suggest that the difference between the two is as much as a tonne per acre.

Seed dressings on second wheat’s have provided a rare exception to this rule; the addition of root promoting dressings such as Jockey and Manganese have certainly proved their worth this year.

Group 1 milling wheat’s have performed particularly well this year and although yields are average, overall quality has been extremely good and most samples are meeting the intended specification. Premiums have however declined which may seem surprising given the apparent quality issues throughout much of central Europe.

The majority of all feed wheat’s sampled have met the required specification of 72kg/hl and there are very few varietal specific problems to report.

Meanwhile, this year’s spring barley harvest has been extremely successful with malting varieties performing particularly well. All varieties have been very bold with reasonable bushel weights and although nitrogen contents have been marginally higher than last season (around 0.1% higher), it has generally been another low nitrogen year.

Market leader Concerto has had another good season and we expect it to be the Maltster’s preferred distilling variety for next year.

As for market values, feed wheat for spot collection is currently valued below the benchmark £120/T ex-farm. Fresh trade is slow; growers early new crop sales have alleviated any immediate cash requirements, many have enough storage options at least for the next couple of months due to this year’s reduced yields, and the majority are now focusing their attention on getting next year’s harvest in the ground.

Seed sales have markedly gathered momentum over the last couple of weeks and we are now selling out of certain varieties.