Wintry weather is now upon us with frost and even snow – and it all seems colder than normal following the hot summer and pleasant autumn.

This has allowed most winter crops to germinate well and the winter sown fields are looking great.

That's the good news. The bad news is that November, 2018, UK wheat futures at the beginning of last week dropped £5 per tonne before the end of the week down to £170, though they have picked up this week standing at £173 in mid-week. November, 2019, futures had also dropped from £162 to £159, which is the lowest price since June.

The influence for this is the latest 2018-19 global wheat production figures which increased since the last estimate of 12m tonnes, back up to 729m tonnes. Looking to the future, it looks like this extra tonnage will all be required as global figures show that by 2050 there will be 3m more mouths to feed in the world than today.

In China, alone, by 2030 it will have 220 cities with a population of more than 1m – at the moment the whole of Europe has just 35.

Back to the moment: The US is forecasting a huge global hard red spring wheat crop of 16.05m tonnes, which is 53% up on last year’s drought-affected crop and the second largest since the 1992 record. Australia is not part of the increased wheat production as its winter wheat production is expected to fall to 16.6m tonnes, down 13% due to drought.

The majority of the rise is due to increased wheat production forecasts in Russia and the EU. The International Grains Council expects the world wheat area in 2019-20 to increase for the first time in four years but this will depend on other factors such as weather.

Russian farmers have sown close to 100% of the planned area of winter grain, which is 16.6m ha compared with15.5m ha at the same time a year ago and they plan to sow 17.2m ha in total.

The UK's domestic prices have not been helped by Ensus announcing a suspension to its operations in late November, due to a fall in global bioethanol prices.

While that might cause localised disruption, figures for the early months of 2018-19 indicate that the UK could reaffirm its position as a nett importer of wheat. Increased wheat imports during the months of July and August totalled 515,000 tonnes, which is an 87% increase from the same months in 2017 and is the highest level for this period since 2013-14.

Russia is a big player in the export trade and by the end of September had sold almost 13m tonnes, with another 4m tonnes in the pipeline to be accounted for up to the end of October. This would mean that in the first three months of the season, almost half its wheat export target had been met, meanwhile EU wheat exports to mid-October were 24% down on last year to 4.8m tonnes.

UK feed barley exports are helping support prices. There have been rising barley prices in the South of England where the barley is being shipped but prices in the North of England and Scotland are currently ahead of export values. At the moment, new domestic demand for feed barley is limited as animal feed compounders wait for winter weather which seems to be now not that far away.

Malting barley prices have remained firm, with tight EU supply and demand, and premiums for malting barley remain good and UK domestic buyers appear to have enough stocks to last until the new year but will need to top up their supplies by next spring.

The UK barley balance is also forecast to tighten for the third consecutive year in 2018-19 to 1.788m tonnes which is 440,000 lower than in 2017-18 and the estimated barley production in 2018 is 8% down on the year at 6.606m tonnes.

UK ex-farm prices have slipped this past week with bread milling wheat down £2.90 per tonne to £177.30, feed wheat is down £1.70 to £171.50 and feed barley is down £2.40 to £165.20.

Good crush demand for oilseed rape and weaker sterling has meant that UK values have remained firm in the face of declining prices in oilseed markets and oilseed rape delivered Erith was up £2.50 last week to £336.

Earlier this year, Brent crude futures rose above $70/barrel for the first time since December, 2014. Political issues and concerns over tightening available supplies have helped to support prices through much of 2018.

Currently, the USDA estimates that 2018-19 US soyabean ending stocks will reach 24.1m tonnes, which would be the largest on record by some 8.5m tonnes. Ongoing trade tensions between the US and China are continuing and currently, accumulated US soya exports to China in the first seven weeks of the 2018-19 marketing year sit at 2m tonnes, which is a 97% reduction from the same period in 2017-18.

The forecast estimated planted area for the 2019-20 EU-28 rapeseed crop is 6.22m ha. If realised, this would be a 9% year-on-year drop and the lowest planted area since 2008-09.

Currently, in the UK weather conditions have been more favourable for winter sowing than across Europe. A reduced EU rapeseed area with poor establishment could tighten supplies across Europe, which could support UK rapeseed prices.