Following 79.4mm or 3.12 inches of rain in October in the Borders area, November has not fared much better, with waterlogged fields everywhere.

No autumn drilling or potato lifting has been possible in the first 10 days of this month, but we certainly have not had the rain that has fallen in in Yorkshire and other parts of Northern England when they had a month’s rain in one day and led to severe flooding.

That part of England accounts for more than 30% of the potato processing area and 18% of the total UK planted area, and just two weeks ago this region had lifted less than 50% of that planted area. With this figure being 30% for the whole of the UK the ongoing heavy rainfall means that no progress has been made since then.

That means that the potato crop in wet ground is now approaching the point of being un-salvageable and in the next few weeks, any crop left in the ground is likely to stay there.

Some crops already lifted into store from this area are already suffering from rots, growth cracks and general breakdown due to going into store in a wet state, and the amount of waste and breakdown will be a major factor in determining prices as we go through the winter.

Winter wheat sowing is also way behind normal in the UK, with an estimated winter wheat planted area of just 50% compared to 95% this time last year. This has seen new crop values move up by £7 per tonne, while old crop wheat prices have had a similar price rise, with little on farm selling and domestic consumers still requiring cover.

New crop November, 2020, UK feed wheat futures have continued their recent surge up to November 8, to £159.25 per tonne, compared to £156 at this time last year. November feed wheat sits £8.35 per tonne ahead of the 20-day rolling average as planting concerns continue.

May, 2020, old crop futures stand at £151 – that’s a rise of £6.80 per tonne in just one week, from November 1 to November 8 – compared to £161 at this time last year. Recent rises in UK feed wheat futures is also being driven by gains in both Chicago and Paris milling wheat futures.

With Brexit delayed for yet some time, this gives a window for further tariff-free exports, but it requires the UK to remain competitive to other exporting countries. This year, we harvested our largest wheat crop since 2015 and this represents the UK exportable surplus at over 2m tonnes.

Sales to date sit at less than 50% of that, so there is a long way to go. Acting as a buffer to that, US wheat is getting cheaper as it attempts to become more competitive on the global market and large increases in EU wheat harvests are also adding price pressure in the UK.

This could all change next year, with the very low percentage of autumn wheat planted due to the adverse weather in the UK and could see the UK face the possibility of returning to a nett import position in 2020-2021. This will affect prices and in years of deficit such as 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, the point to which ex-farm prices can rise is determined by the cost of importing grain and the haulage to end users.

Australia and South America are currently suffering from drought in their wheat growing areas and production will suffer as a result and this will affect maize production across South America.

UK domestic feed barley prices have risen on the back of firmer feed wheat prices and the price difference between feed wheat and feed barley has increased. There is also still a large tonnage of barley to export and with Brexit delayed, the UK has come back into the export market, but there is little demand as many EU buyers have bought tonnage from other countries.

By the end of November, the UK will have exported 1m tonnes of barley out of a 2.2m tonne surplus. Getting rid of this amount will depend on the amount of barley production in the Southern Hemisphere which normally has a large tonnage to export, but countries there have been suffering from drought for some time, with harvest due to start in the next month. That means a lot depends on how their harvest goes, possibly helping the UK to get more of their surplus barley moved.

Malting barley has been commanding an £8-£10 premium over feed and with the Brexit extension up until the end of January, 2020, this may see some more sales into the EU. But, with the recent Brexit uncertainty over UK malting barley exports, EU buyers have bought supplies from other countries and the UK domestic malting barley maltsters appear to be well covered for the season.

The decline in animal feed production slowed in September with total GB feed output for the month totalling 1.224m tonnes, down 4% on the year. This takes the season to date, July to September, animal feed production to 3.303m tonnes which is 6% lower than for the same period last year. Wheat usage is 5% down on year earlier levels at 1.166m tonnes, barley demand is up 4% at 296,000 tonnes and maize inclusion is up 23% at 125,000 tonnes.

UK oilseed rape markets have recovered by around £5 per tonne this past week and sterling will be a key factor over the next few weeks and also the China/US trade deal appears to be coming to a close soon, with a phased roll-back of tariffs being agreed. This has helped support US soyabean futures a s well.

Australia is expecting to have a reduced production of canola, down from 2.2m tonnes last year to around 1.8m tonnes this time. It requires 1m tonnes for home requirements, so will be looking to export around 800,000 tonnes – which is well short of Europe’s usual requirements from Australia.

Canada is also getting close to a solution with regard to a trading agreement with China, which has been taking canola in the past. But Canada has been targeting exports to the EU due to the trading agreement issues and China switched from Canadian imports to tariff-free US soya instead.

It’s not been plain sailing, though, in Canada, where some farmers have had problems with snow cover during harvest but are now into the final 20% and still aim to ship a deal of their canola to Europe.

The EU is forecast to import 6m tonnes of rapeseed this season and to date have imported 2.68m tonnes, of which 2.12m tonnes has come from the Ukraine, which has almost exhausted its supplies for export.

With the weather issues in Australia and reduced production available for export, one alternative for the EU is to increase the volume of biodiesel later in the season. EU imports of Argentinean biodiesel increased from 355,700 tonnes in 2017 to 1.64m tonnes in 2018 and this year up to August, imports have totalled 582,900 tonnes.

With a large deficit of rapeseed in the EU this season, biodiesel production is likely to be affected and there is the potential of increased imports into 2020. This could suppress demand for rapeseed oil and rapeseed in the late winter period when biodiesel producer’s switch to cheaper vegetable oils, like palm oil and soya. That means less demand for rapeseed in the face of biodiesel imports could ease the tightening EU rapeseed supply and demand balance.