The Grain Column with Emma Croft

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

Following on from an Easter Weekend of typically average Bank Holiday weather, a good amount of vital spring land work has now been achieved here in Yorkshire. The majority of spring crops are now well established, or “nicely poking through” as most local growers have commented and the weather forecast is promising as I believe the majority will welcome a little rainfall.

Winter wheat crops are also in a very good condition and have certainly benefitted from the mild spring weather and plants are certainly on the move now that we are beginning to see some sunshine.

OSR crops look particularly well and whilst some are concerned that crops are flowering too early, most are pleased with the level of disease control and overall cleanliness.

Globally, Northern Hemisphere crops generally are said to be in a good condition with only minor concerns raised for some US winter wheat crops so far and the trade appears optimistic for another season ahead of abundant grain supplies.

It seems strange to have no major weather issues to report at this stage in the season; conditions are promising and the long term forecasts don’t currently offer any surprises – hence the stale nature of the UK grain market.

New crop feed wheat for harvest collection is continuing to trade in the region of £130/T - £135/T ex-farm this week and the benchmark £140/T is now being offered until this time next year. As for the old crop wheat market, prices are still unchanged at £150/T ex-farm give or take a couple of pounds per tonne either way.

Tuesday’s announcement by Theresa May regarding a general election on 8 June to ensure “certainty and stability in the wake of Brexit” has added pressure to the old crop market as the pound strengthens.

Speaking of the old crop market, the latest import/export data makes interesting reading. According to the latest information from HMR&C, the UK remained a net importer for the third month in a row in February following a 14 month period of being a net exporter. Season to date exports of wheat now total 1.26 million tonnes, while wheat imports have reached 1.13m tonnes.

Looking back to the start of the trading season, a heavy volume of opening stocks allowed for the pace of wheat exports to continue at a similar rate seen thought last year. However, this pace started to slow in December and has remained under 100,000 tonnes per month since then as UK wheat has become increasingly competitive on a global scale.

If the current trend continues for the remainder of the season, we could either see the UK become a net importer this season, or alternatively, we could see UK wheat values reduce in value in order to effectively compete.

Judging by the amount of feed wheat currently available locally on farm, I would say that the former option would be the most likely.