The Grain Column with Emma Croft

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

Ex-farm feed wheat prices are proving difficult to pin-point this week.

Some local growers are convinced that £145/T ex-farm is being offered out on farm which may be true for growers who are located within a short distance from Ensus, Wilton.

Others, however, are currently being offered somewhere around the £140/T ex-farm mark, perhaps slightly more.

As for new crop wheat, £140/T ex-farm is currently offered for September/October collection. This figure received significant interest towards the end of last week as growers looking to secure some early movement took advantage of this benchmark.

As for feed barley, again prices are very difficult to gauge at the moment. A general lack of on-farm supplies appears to be rallying the short term market for odd loads but movement further forward into the early summer months is attracting limited interest.

As for new crop, buyers are expressing interest in the region of £120/T ex-farm for harvest collection, with £130/T ex-farm being offered for pre-Christmas collection. With such a heavy reliance on spring cropping, I would imagine that a decent chunk of next season’s new crop barley isn’t even in the ground yet, hence the increase in ex-farm value.

Perhaps it could be worth taking advantage of?

Elsewhere, according to the latest crop condition reports released by the USDA, the proportion of US winter wheat crops rated as either good or excellent has declined in several key growing states. They added that “the recent abnormally dry weather in the key growing states in the central plains is a contributing factor”.

In Kansas for example (the largest state in terms of the area of US winter wheat planted), there is a total of 7.8 million hectares of wheat in the ground. Here, the percentage of crops rated either “excellent or good” declined from 37% in December to just 14% in January. Additionally, the percentage of crops rated as “poor or very poor” doubled from December to January, rising to 44%. In comparison to a year previous, only 20% of crops were rated as “poor or very poor” whilst 44% crops were rated as “excellent or good”.

A similarly worrying pattern was also highlighted for other key winter wheat growing states. In Oklahoma, the US’ third largest wheat producing state, 79% of the total winter wheat crop is rated as “poor or very poor”. At this time last year, just 17% was rated in this category.

With the US winter wheat area already small (the smallest since 1909), higher yields will be needed this harvest to avoid an overall drop in output next season. Long term, any reduction in US wheat production would put increased pressure on other major exporting countries.