Crops are now benefitting from some rain and this has seen market and futures price weaken as a result.

Rain in my part of the Borders after only 13.3mm, or half an inch of rain in May – according to John Aitchison’s rainfall figures at Lochton – has helped crops, but the weather delayed the first cut of silage in some areas.

There has also been some rain in parts of Canada and the USA and following a new recent contract high for the November, 2018, new crop wheat futures of £161.50, prices have dropped to around £158.25 with the news of some rain in other countries as well.

It has been a volatile week. Prices had risen on the back of poorer Black Sea crop conditions, before better than expected US wheat and maize ratings, coupled with some rain triggered a fall in prices. This scenario could continue for some time as news filters though from the major global crop growing areas.

Russia is now the world’s top wheat exporter, having overtaken both the US and the EU in 2017-18. Its share of global wheat exports is estimated to have doubled over the last 10 years, from 10% in 2007-08 to 22% in 2017-18.

The economic factors of trade and currency have not been the only factors enabling a rise in Russian production. Temperatures have been rising faster in the key agricultural areas of Russia than the world average, leading to milder winters and the expansion of area for higher yielding winter wheat.

As of 2016, more winter wheat has been planted than spring, a stark contrast to 20 years ago when spring wheat represented 80-100% of Russia's wheat planting.

With the global picture of wheat exporters now spearheaded by Russia and adverse weather set to be the source of volatility, a new, higher risk world looks to have been set.

In 2017, total approved malting barley purchases recorded an increase on the previous year’s levels and this was the first uplift in volume in four years, according to the Maltster’s Association of Great Britain.

The rise in total malting barley purchases in 2017 was largely driven by an 11% expansion on the year in winter malting barley demand at 278,500 tonnes. The leading winter barley variety for 2017 purchases was Venture, at nearly 6% of total purchases.

While the total spring barley purchases recorded a less sharp increase of 1% on the year, they still accounted for nearly 85% of total malting barley demand in 2017, at 1.56m tonnes.

Last year also saw Concerto topping the spring barley purchases at 40%. The recently introduced spring varieties of Laureate and Sienna accounted for 6% and 1%, respectively.

Demand for barley by the UK's 'human and industrial' sector this season is forecast to climb during this year, driven largely by a rise in productivity from brewers, maltsters and distillers.

EU production forecasts for wheat, barley and maize have also been cut from earlier estimates by the EU commission. Despite the growing season for the 2018-19 crop getting off to a good start, later dry weather caused concern about lower yields.

Wheat production is now forecast to be down 1.5m tonnes on 2017 levels, while barley production in the EU in 2018-19 is forecast at 60.1m tonnes – a decline on earlier predictions, but still above the 58.7m tonnes in 2017.

French, Spanish and UK wheat is reported to be in 'good' condition following recent warm and wet weather there.

French industry watchdog, Strategie Grains, has lowered its forecast of the 2018-19 EU rapeseed crop to 21.4m tonnes and now places production 600,000 tonnes below the EU rapeseed production of 2017-18. Argentina’s 2017/18 soyabean stocks are forecast to fall by 40% to 10.9m tonnes and this record drawdown in stocks is due to Argentina meeting crush and export requirements in spite of reduced production. It is now expected to import 4m tonnes of soya this season.

The exemption period excluding some of the US’s major trading partners' steel and aluminium tariffs has ended, which is escalating global trade tensions.

Mixed signals have also been coming out of negotiations with China, with little headway appearing to be made. Until these trade disputes are resolved, uncertainty will continue to provide downward pressure on prices of agricultural products commonly exported from the US, including soya.