THE AFTERMATH of Storm Doris means that land is wet again and any thoughts of sowing have largely gone away.

Further afield, though there are concerns regarding ongoing dry conditions in parts of northern and eastern Europe and this will be one to watch in the coming months.

But those have not been enough to stave off wheat markets drifting lower this week but both old and new crop futures markets are within £1 of where they closed at the end of January.

May, 2017, Liffee old crop feed wheat futures were down by £2.75 to £146.00 and November, 2017, new crop was down £1.90 to £136.55. November, 2018, was down £1.65 to £140.10.

The UK is one country where prices have actually risen, with wheat prices increasing by 22% in 2016 due to tight domestic market and the devaluation of the pound following the Brexit vote.

Most farmers producing wheat in the world, though, have suffered from poor returns in recent years and US wheat prices in 2016 fell by 13%. US wheat production will fall this year at its fastest rate in 26 years and as a result there will be a decline in the world harvest of wheat, which could see hopes of a recovery in prices in the US, expected to be in the region of almost 12% next season. US wheat production is put at 50m tonnes – the lowest in 11 years and a 20% fall year-on-year due to lower sowings.

Wheat harvest production will fall in Australia, Canada, Russia and Ukraine, too and, after setting production records in four consecutive years, world wheat production in 2017-18 is expected to decline. That's despite some recovery output expected in the EU, which is a major player in the wheat market.

On the other side of the coin as well, Argentina is expecting a record wheat crop of 18.3m tonnes, up from 11.3m tonnes, or 62% year-on-year year of which more than 11m tonnes will be exported. India is also forecasting a wheat crop of 91m tonnes, up from 87m tonnes in 2015-16.

Despite those production stats, the International Grains Council forecast world wheat production in 2017-18 not far off the 2016-17 record high, with stocks continuing to look on the heavy side, although these initial estimates are far from confirmed given that only Northern Hemisphere winter crops have been planted.

With stocks-to-use forecast remaining at around 31%, still above 2015-16 levels, should any supply issue occur, the world market will still be cushioned to some extent by available stocks.

The International Grains Council increased its 2016-17 global cereal crop forecast to 2102m tonnes compared to 2006m tonnes in 2015-16, but higher usage should see stocks only increasing to 508m tonnes, up from 475m tonnes.

EU soft wheat exports for the week ending February 21 totalled 81,900 tonnes – the lowest weekly amount since at least July, 2014. Total soft wheat exports for this season up to that point add up to 15.8m tonnes, compared to 17.6m tonnes last year.

Total EU soft wheat exports in 2016-17 are forecast at 24m tonnes which means that in the remaining 19 weeks until the end of the season, an average of around 430,000 tonnes per week will need to be exported to meet the forecast. So far this season, weekly exports have averaged 465,000 tonnes.

Last week, Egypt bought 720,000 tonnes of soft wheat and for the season to date it has bought 4.6m tonnes, compared to 3.25m tonnes last year. The increased interest in wheat by Egypt has added support to European wheat values and along with the US lower wheat plantings, should provide underlying support to new crop markets.

The UK is expected to have around 10% increase in spring barley planted area and nearly all of this area will be in England, where different rotations are needed to combat black grass. If this extra tonnage is grown and with little increase in domestic demand in recent years, then exports will be the only route to keep surplus stocks from increasing.

In recent times, exports have been the key function to balance the UK barley market. In the five years to June, 2016, the UK exported 5.85m tonnes of barley, up 2.3m tonnes, or 65% on the prior five- year period.

Just 30%, or 680,000 tonnes of the additional exports were into the EU, with the remaining growth going to the world market. However, the EU still accounted for a 68% share of our total barley exports in the five years to June, 2016, therefore, much will depend on the post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU.

Oilseed markets fell last week as the soya harvest in Brazil progressed and will see a record crop up by 2m tonnes to 107.8m tonnes, this resulted in the oilseed rape price delivered Erith down £8 to £357.50, last week.

Spring plantings of soya in the US are projected up by nearly 2m ha from last year and this has resulted in the maize area decreasing by 4%.