Another week goes by with continued wet spells and annoying localised showers which has stopped the combines from getting the harvest completed. Some 90% of the GB crop had been harvested by September 5, ahead of the five-year average of 85% by the beginning of September. 

In Scotland, harvest is 55% complete overall, ahead of 2016 when harvest progress was just 44% by this point. Whilst harvest progress is still ahead of the five-year average, progress for many farmers has been slow and frustrating due to frequent weather disruptions.

Another factor which could see Scottish malting barley not making the grade is due to a large proportion of barley having average nitrogen levels of 1.59%, up from 1.49% in 2016. 

With an optimum distilling malt specification from 1.50% with an upper limit of 1.65%, a significant proportion of Scottish barley may not meet the specification for intended markets. 

The Eastern region also saw a year-on-year increase in nitrogen content, up 0.10% from last year to a provisional 1.71% in 2017. With UK brewing specifications typically between 1.60% and 1.75%, eastern region barley may also, in some circumstances, fail to meet intended market specifications.

Due to higher nitrogen levels, supplies of low nitrogen barley could well be hard to source and the Maltsters Association of Great Britain ideally would like to buy over 92% of their total demand at under 1.65% nitrogen content from Scottish farms.

Sterling rose sharply late last week hitting a two-month high against the euro and a fifteen-month high against the US dollar and this saw wheat and oilseed prices slip as a result.

November 2017 Liffee feed wheat futures were down 90p to £139.35 and November 2018 futures were down 95p to £144.85 per tonne. 

The strength of Sterling was due to an expectation of a UK interest rate hike possibly as soon as November and was a post Brexit referendum high.

While UK wheat futures were dropping because of the stronger pound, Paris milling wheat futures gained €3.75 and Chicago wheat futures were up by $4.13 US dollars.

Paris rapeseed and Chicago soybean futures both gained last week, a combination of the stronger sterling and higher imported supplies meant UK delivered rapeseed prices fell sharply over the same period. 

UK delivered rapeseed prices delivered Erith fell last week by £8.50 to £324.00 per tonne.

UK ex-farm bread milling wheat fell by 30p to £149, feed wheat was up 90p to £134.90 and feed barley was unchanged at £118.50 which sees feed barley at just over £15 discount to feed wheat, compared to a discount of more than £25 per tonne in July which was the largest discount since July 2014 and as a result in July this year, 95,000 tonnes of barley was used in the production of compound and poultry feed which was up by more than 33,000 tonnes on the same month last year.

The UK wheat production from this harvest is now put at 14.2m tonnes which is down from last year’s total of 14.5m tonnes and large scale imports will be needed again this season as domestic wheat production is insufficient to meet rising domestic demand of more than 15m tonnes.

World grain stocks will hit a record high in 2017-18 due to increased production from Russia and the UN food agency have increased the total stocks up by 15m tonnes to 719.2m tonnes at the close of 2017-18 due to increase of wheat and coarse grains.

Russian grain production is forecast up by 8.9m tonnes to 748.8m tonnes and is due to good weather growing conditions which more than offsets the drought conditions in Canada where production estimates continue to drop.

Australia has forecast a 40% year-on-year reduction of their barley output down to 8m tonnes due to below average rainfall and there have been recent reports of frost damage as well. Australia’s wheat exports have also been forecast lower to 18.15m tonnes which would be 4m tonnes lower than last year’s total.

World wheat stocks are now estimated at an all-time high of 261.9m tonnes, up 6.1m tonnes from the previous estimate and a gain of 14.6m tonnes year-on-year.

The French wheat production for 2017 has now been estimated at 37.8m tonnes which is a rise of about 10m tonnes from last year and this leaves France looking for export markets for about 10m tonnes outside the EU, which will represent a challenge in the face of a huge Russian crop alongside Ukrainian and other Black Sea supplies. 

Russia and the Ukraine have already shipped nearly 10m tonnes of wheat so far this season and need to keep this up to remove their surplus and this compares to the whole of the European Union that has managed to only export 3.1m tonnes to date but compares to 1.71m tonnes last year at this time. 

Total forecast soft wheat exports from the EU who is the world’s largest exporter has been cut by 1.3m tonnes to 23.1m tonnes despite estimates that the EU will produce 142.5m tonnes which is 6.5m tonnes more than last year’s total production.