October carried on from where September left off, with high winds and heavy rain at times, but autumn drilling has gone into excellent seed beds and most farms are now all drilled up – apart from the potato fields that are still to be lifted.

This is in marked contrast to last autumn where many winter crops were unable to be sown because of poor soil conditions and this was followed up by wet and cold weather, including the Beast from the East this past spring.

As a result of all the bad weather during autumn and spring planting last season, production was down in most areas. Scotland’s most widely grown crop, spring barley in 2018 is estimated at 1.33m tonnes, which is a 7% decline on 2017. Scottish wheat production is estimated at 807,000 tonnes and that is down 9% from last year, mainly due to a 9% reduction in planted area of 100,000 ha because of the difficult autumn planting.

Winter barley production in Scotland, at 287,000 tonnes, is down 18% from last year, but that is due in part to a 21% reduction in area offsetting a 3% yield increase. Oat production, at 180,000 tonnes, is down 3% from 2017, which is due to planted area and yield down by 2% and 1%, respectively. Oilseed rape production is estimated down to 125,000 tonnes, 13% down on the year.

With declining grain production expected across Scotland, this is likely to see tighter supplies which could support Scottish prices against other areas of the UK, but will see increased import demand for animal feed from other parts of the UK, or from overseas. It will retain the UK’s position as a nett importer of wheat, which will support UK domestic wheat prices too.

It is not just Scotland that has reduced levels of production, as UK rapeseed production is estimated down by 5% from last year and 7% below the five-year- average. UK wheat production is estimated at 14.1m tonnes in 2018 which represents a 5.1% year-on-year reduction and the lowest production since 2013 and 800,000 tonnes below the five-year average.

UK barley production is estimated at 6.6m tonnes, which is a year-on-year reduction of 7.9% and the lowest recorded since 2012. Again, this is all due to poor weather conditions at planting time and which is not the case this autumn.

Globally, 2018-19 wheat production has been revised down by over 2m tonnes to 730.9m tonnes and this has resulted in wheat end stocks being reduced by over 1m tonnes to 260.2m tonnes – or 14.7m tonnes below 2017-18.

Canada is still having poor weather, including snow ( see opposite page) and the wheat harvest is now just 65% complete, compared to 95% at this time last year. It has quality issues as well. Alberta and Saskatchewan each produces around 40% of that country’s wheat and both are having weather issues.

This is important for the UK as Canadian high protein wheat is used by UK millers and bakers – last season it accounted for 60% of non-EU wheat imports.

Australia is also having weather issues, with September being the driest on record in some regions and Australian wheat production has been revised down to around 18m tonnes, which would be an 11-year low due in part to September’s rainfall being 33% down on average and temperatures being1.26°C above average.

Declining wheat production and export availability from the top exporters will tighten global markets. Some feel that Australian wheat production could fall even lower and rumours over possible disruption to Russian exports could see further support for global and UK prices.

The UK ex-farm price reported for malting barley during September was the highest against feed barley in seven years.

According to AHDB figures, malting barley averaged £47.60 per tonne above feed barley at £164 per tonne and if this premium continues, the gap to feed barley would be the highest since 2007. A wet spring and dry summer contributed to this elevated price.

November’s Liffe feed wheat futures were down £1.60 to £177.70 and November, 2019, futures were down £1 to £165.40. Ex-farm bread milling wheat was up £1.40 to £183.40 and feed wheat was up £1.90 to £173.40.

Feed barley ex farm was up £1.70 to £165.70 and oilseed rape delivered Erith was down £3.50 to £333.