LAST WEEKEND saw the first settled spell for some time and combines have been catching up on lost time, especially in the east.

That meant that all of the oilseed rape was harvested in the Borders and yields have been approaching or even averaging in some cases 3.5-3.7t/ha, with moisture levels acceptable as well – which helps to keep costs down and is well above last year’s yield of 3.31t/ha.

This yield is above the five-year average of 3.4 t/ha and an added bonus has been the high oil content which is hovering around 45%. That adds a little bonus to the bottom line.

This past week – weather permitting – after winter barley and second wheat harvesting, the combines moved into spring barley and first wheats.

The weather, though, remains changeable and a lack of sunshine must be raising fears of quality issues. hat said, spring barley in some areas remains some way off the knife and a good spell of weather would right a lot of wrongs.

As at August 15, an estimated 98% of winter barley and 96% of oilseed rape had been harvested and, in England, an estimated 40% of its wheat acreage had been harvested. The forecasted GB wheat average yield is now put at 8.0-8.2t/ha – but yields to date have generally been better than expected, though highly variable.

Farmers had also taken the chance with weather delays in harvesting to get the already harvested fields cultivated and ready for autumn sowing campaign. At least the new sown crop will get off to a good start, with plenty moisture in the seed bed!

Spring barleys that have been cut in the south of England have generally seen nitrogen levels 0.2% higher than last year and there are some screening issues as well.

It is early days yet to say how much quality will have been lost due to the weather, but prices have dropped as Danish and French growers have taken advantage of recent price increases. Germany, though, is struggling to get its barley cut, with 25% left to do after a prolonged wet spell, but Denmark has started and early samples are of good quality.

This year's English spring barley area is 15% larger than in 2016 and the highest on records going back to 1997.

In the UK, there has been some spot demand for feed barley and for export which has helped to support prices and also helped by merchant requirements and forward feed demand even though the maize and wheat prices have dropped.

The US Department of Agriculture raised its forecast wheat production for Russia alone by 5.5m tonnes to 77.5m tonnes recently and up by 8.5m tonnes for the Former Soviet Union. The main reasons being record crop yields, good condition of spring grain and high level of moisture in the soil. Ukraine and Kazakhstan are also having high yields.

These increases will more than offset cuts to the US and Canadian wheat crops on the back of continued drought conditions in key growing areas over recent weeks.

The EU total wheat production forecast has also been cut by 400,000 tonnes to 149.6m tonnes, compared to 145.7m tonnes in 2016-17, due to general poor weather conditions especially in Germany, Poland and the Baltic states. This will result in exports of EU wheat being down 62% year-on-year from 3.3m tonnes last year at this time to 1.2m tonnes.

France is having a better harvest this time with an estimated 36.8m tonnes of soft wheat following last year’s disastrous harvest of 27.6m tonnes. Quality appears to be good, so they are looking to recapture their export markets but will have to compete with large Black Sea supplies and currency issues as the euro is increasing in strength against the dollar.

The Australian wheat crop is forecast at 22.7m tonnes, down from previous estimate of 23.3m tonnes and last year’s record crop of 35.1m tonnes and again is due to weather issues.

World wheat production has been increased to 743.18m tonnes, up from previous forecast of 737.83m tonnes and as a result of these figures the USDA now projects global wheat stocks at the end of 2017-18 at 264.7m tonnes which will be over 6m tonnes above last season’s record stock levels.

The UK's wheat forecast has been cut down to 14.2m tonnes from 14.6m tonnes last month – in 2016 it was 14.5m tonnes. That's been put down to the stop/start wheat harvest in England and is resulting in more feed quality wheat than was expected, with hagbergs and specific weight continuing to drop.

Due to this larger projected global wheat production, especially from the Black sea area, international grain futures markets fell for a second week, with UK wheat futures following the global trend.

November, 2017, feed wheat futures were down £3.20 on the week to £138.80 but on Monday, earlier this week fell another 80p down to £138.

UK ex-farm bread milling wheat dropped £2.50 last week to £145.80 and feed wheat was back by £4.20 to £130.40, while feed barley was down £1.20 to £116.90, which is a healthy discount to wheat. This means there's demand from merchants for feed rations for barley over wheat inclusion.

Oilseed rape delivered Erith was unchanged at £323.50 last week, but soyabean prices dropped due to increased supplies in the US where production is put at 119.23m tonnes, ors 1.7% above last year’s record.

Global exports of rapeseed and canola in 2017-18 are forecast to fall back by around 2m tonnes compared with last season due to reduced production in Australia and Canada following poor weather in recent months.

European OSR production is seen heading towards 22m tonnes with increases in the UK, France and Romania.