Harvest continues to be a stop start affair and some oilseed rape crops that have been dessicated for some time are now looking vulnerable to heavy rain and wind.

However, given the capacity of modern combines a few good days would soon tidy up any remaining oilseed rape fields.

Up to August 1 in England an estimated 21% of cereal and oilseed crops had been cut, which is ahead of the five-year average of 16% at that date.

While the quality of the 2017 crop is far from certain at this point, weather developments over the coming weeks will be critical for UK crops.

The UK is not alone in having unsettled weather. Spain – where I have just come back from – with temperatures in excess of 40°C has been suffering from this weather for some time. Torrential rains in autumn, followed by freezing conditions and then drought, then extremely hot weather, has left reservoirs at around 50% capacity and at their lowest for two decades.

Following the warmest spring in 50 years and then May and June having drought conditions, up to 550,000 ha of crop has been affected.

Spanish wheat production has fallen this year by 35.3%, barley by 38%, oats by 22.6% and rye by 65.3%. At a national level, the harvest is down by 50% and the fall is as large as 80% in some areas. This results in the Spanish barley production down at 5.6m tonnes, the lowest level since 2005 and could see barley imports increased by 50% from 2016-17 levels.

This is good news for UK barley exports as recent reports have indicated to a sizeable volume of UK feed barley being loaded for export to Spain. Price data from the EU suggested UK feed barley is pricing competitively.

Recently UK feed barley was almost £7 per tonne cheaper than French barley and almost £30 per tonne cheaper than Spanish. If UK barley continues to be competitive into the EU against other origins, exports will likely continue to gather pace.

Last week, the value of the pound fell to its lowest level against the euro since mid-October and the decline in the value of sterling follows the announcement by the Bank of England that it is to keep interest rates at the record low level of 0.25%, due to Brexit uncertainty.

During the first half of 2016, weaker sterling was beneficial to UK wheat and barley exports, with ample supplies available. However, things changed in the latter half of 2016 with a tighter domestic supply and demand balance, combined with further currency volatility which led to UK prices climbing and becoming uncompetitive.

Currently the euro is trading at a 2.5 year high against the dollar. That indirectly led to UK feed wheat futures falling last week under pressure from global grain markets, despite a sharp fall in the value of sterling.

Reports of large Black Sea crops beginning to make their way onto export markets, along with a more favourable weather forecast, were the main price drivers.

Russian grain output could reach up to 105m tonnes, as much as 4% above last year where yields of up to 7 t/ha have been reached where normally it would be up to 5t/ha.

The European wheat harvest has seen continued weather challenges, particularly in Germany, with quality concerns becoming more evident and 30-40% of their crop will be feed quality compared to 20% being the norm, early UK wheat samples show good quality at present but where wet weather continues, hagberg levels will fall and already there are signs of sprouting.

The Australian wheat crop is forecast to be around 21.2m tonnes, compared to 35.1m tonnes in 2016-17 again all due to weather issues.

November, 2017, feed wheat futures were down £4.05 on the week to £143.75 and for November 2018, down £2.30 to £148.30.

UK ex-farm bread milling wheat was down last week by £1.50 to £150.10, feed wheat was up 30p to £142.10 and feed barley was up 80p to £117.80.

The UK oilseed rape harvest is now 75% complete, compared to this time last year when it was 14% done and at August 1, harvest was approximately two weeks ahead of normal but since then a lot of the UK has seen unsettled weather which has delayed harvest.

A national average of 3.4-3.6 t/ha of oilseed rape is estimated so far which is in line with the five-year average of 3.4 t/ha.

EU rapeseed production is put at 21.6m. tonnes, compared to the five-year average of 20.8m. tonnes. Global production was put at 72.4m tonnes, versus a five-year average of 69.3 m. tonnes.

The UK crop is being put at 1.977m tonnes, offsetting bigger production in the EU this season, where global end stocks for rapeseed have fallen from 7.5m. tonnes to 4.5 m. tonnes in the last five years.

UK winter barley harvest is now 70% complete, with yield put at 6.9-7.1 t/ha compared to 6.4 t/ha in 2016. The winter barley crop has produced low nitrogen samples and low screenings, so quality has been better than last year, resulting in current prices attracting better winter malting premiums than for many years.

Spring barley premiums have increased significantly in the last week, due to a combination of UK and European malting barley concerns.

In Europe, heavy rainfall has raised concerns about the quality of spring barley crops in Western Germany and Eastern France and in the UK, nitrogen levels of spring barley of spring sown barley look to be significantly higher than last season although plenty of barley is still to be harvested.