With ongoing mainly dry weather throughout September plus some 52mm (two inches) of rain in the Borders conditions have been ideal to get the sown autumn crops going well and also allowed fieldwork to progress and seed to go into well prepared seedbeds.

So it's been a great start to the 2019 harvest year for most people. We have had 482mm, or nearly 19 inches of rain for the year to date in the Borders and the main activity now on the land is harvesting potatoes. That's a must as temperatures are falling quite quickly and there are signs of early frosts around.

AHDB has been analysing the 2017-18 UK cereals supply and demand and for wheat closing stocks at 1.718m tonnes are the lowest since 2013-14. This 37% decline in opening stocks is a result of a small wet-weather hit 2016-17 crop and a smaller than anticipated 2017-18 wheat crop due to drought, has caused this reduction.

Wheat used for domestic consumption, at 15.682m tonnes, is very similar to the previous year, full season wheat imports of 1.793m tonnes are 3% down but exports are 69% down at 448,000 tonnes year-on-year. This anticipated tighter wheat availability, combined with reduced opening stocks and increased animal feed demand following the dry weather, would point to a tight year and support for prices but the Vivergo biomass electric plant closure, where one million tonnes per annum had been used in the past, will temper the market somewhat.

Liffee feed wheat futures for November, 2018, stand at £176.15 which is only down 20p from the previous week, though ex-farm feed wheat prices have eased by around £10 since peaking in August and currently stand at £170.50, which is up £2.80 on the week. Bread milling wheat is up £1.30 to £179.70 and feed barley is up 80p to £163.60, which is a discount to wheat of nearly £7 and down nearly £3 since mid-August.

Wheat futures have been affected by the news of rain in Russia which will help their sowing of winter crops. Also on the global scene, the International Grains Council has increased its estimate of world wheat production to 716.7m tonnes due to an increase of Russian wheat production up to 68.5m tonnes. Year end stocks are estimated at 249.8m tonnes, but is still down by 17m tonnes year-on-year.

Australian wheat prices have also risen on the back of more bad weather with heavy frosts and -9°C temperatures and they are also continuing to have dry weather, which is affecting yield and quality as well

The feed barley market has been quiet, with lack of consumer buying and cheaper wheat removing a proportion of barley from many compound rations. However, there is export demand for later in the year in the South of England, where current values are the lowest across the UK.

Supplies are tighter in Scotland, where low spring barley yields and the dry summer have reduced tonnages and some compounders are now buying ahead for next year.

Malting barley prices have remained steady but with the drop in feed barley prices, this has seen the premium for malting spring barley increase including demand coming from the export market as buyers have been coming from mainland Europe. But, there appears to be little domestic demand at present as UK consumers have plenty of stocks at present.

In 2017-18, the total domestic use of barley was up 7% year-on-year to 6.153m tonnes and this extra tonnage was used mainly in animal feed.

After a lull, oilseed rape prices picked up last week by £6 per tonne delivered Erith to stand at £332.50 per tonne. There was good support for UK rapeseed values due to a €10 increase in May's Matif contracts due to poor EU plantings and a weaker sterling. Five weeks ago the OSR market had peaked and is now £19 per tonne lower, which is a drop of 6% and by comparison the wheat market hit contract highs on August 9 and by September 9 was £22/tonne lower, which represents a fall of 11%.

Volatility in oilseeds markets has generally been less than in cereal markets due to increased world production in oilseed crops and the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, which announced that its pig herd numbers are dropping. Coupled with dropping a percentage of soya in their rations, this will wipe out 27m tonnes of demand.

EU maize production has been forecast down by 4.6% year-on-year due to dry weather, with Germany’s average maize yield this year at 5.56t/ha, compared to 10.5t/ha last year. France is also forecasting yields to be down by 16% year-on-year.

However, Argentina and Brazil are forecasting record yields for both maize and wheat and with the US-China trade dispute ongoing and seemingly getting worse, it will be interesting to see if the Brazilian soya area increases to further expand export potential to China. The US has imposed tariffs on a further $200bn of Chinese goods and China has responded with tariffs on an additional $60bn worth of US goods which has led to China cancelling trade talks with the US for the time being.

The bean market continues to rise as exporters try to find tonnage to cover export sales which are now below the current market value. Some compound feed buyers are now switching out of beans as they no longer represent good value in some ruminant rations.

The price of nitrogen, ammonium nitrate, fertiliser has seen the largest rise on the year. UK-produced AN rose by 7% between July and August and is up 31% on the year. The latest increase has been driven by higher gas prices in Europe and tight AN availability, according to the trade.