Conditions so far during March have remained much less windy compared to recent months and we have seen very little cold and frosty weather.

Following a lot of rain in recent weeks there has not been much work done on the land as the soil has not dried much to allow any cultivation to take place. Winter crops that did manage to get sown in the autumn continue to look well and if the forecast is correct for the next few days temperatures should rise and we will see some growth following recent fertiliser application.

Weather statistics continue to provide new records and last month was the world’s warmest February on record and it was also the ninth month in a row where temperatures were the hottest in modern history for the time of year and last month was 1.77C warmer than in pre-industrial times.

Sea surface temperatures in February were also at their highest ever known which is due to the EL Nino natural weather system which warms oceans and affects winds and has been pushing up temperatures in recent times.

Last month’s rainfall varied between 36mm and 55mm depending on whose rain gauge the reading came from here in the Borders and depending on location the rainfall has been very variable.


Last week saw the LIFFE feed wheat futures hit new lows as May 2024 old crop dropped to £159.60/t and November 2024 fell to £177.95/t, they have recovered slightly to £160.75/t and £180.25/t but wheat futures have lost half of their value from their peak in May 2022 and 20% of their value over the first seven weeks of this year and are under pressure from large world wheat supplies.

Cheap export sales from Black Sea countries where quotes of £157.00/t for milling quality wheat on a boat at a Black Sea port is available.

As I write the LIFFE wheat futures for both May and November 2024 have risen today to £165/t and £185/t respectively per tonne and Oil seed rape has risen by £9/t which I presume is due to the latest USDA report.

Algeria has bought up to one million tonnes for June delivery at $228/t including freight costs which is nearly $40 below their previous purchase.

In the UK feed wheat is quoted at £159.50/t delivered and bread wheat at £255.00/t delivered.

Russia is exporting one million tonnes per week due to their aggressive pricing policy and is looking to export all its 51m tonnes of exportable surplus.

The EU exported 479,000t of wheat during the last week in February to give a total moved so far of 20.976mt.

This leaves another 10mt to export before the end of the season and Morocco followed by Algeria continue to be the main EU customers having taken over 3m tonnes and 1.86m tonnes respectively so far.

North Africa has suffered from drought which will leave Morocco and Algeria 15-19% below their normal average yield which is the reason for their large tonnage bought recently from the EU.

This could be an opportunity for the UK to export some feed barley as well, especially if we have a larger planted area of spring barley this year resulting in a larger tonnage looking to find a home.

Wheat prices in the UK continue to be too high to compete for export sales which will see a carryover of over 3mt. Due to the poor autumn weather and lack of autumn planting this could see a UK wheat crop below 11mt which will leave a shortfall to meet a consumption requirement of just under 15mt.

The EU-27 wheat crop is likely to reduce this year by around 2.5% to 122.6mt.

Continued wet weather in Germany, Poland and Romania could even see a reduction in the barley planted area as well.

Adverse weather in India could see them being a wheat importer of wheat again as heavy rain and hailstorms have caused damage even though a forecast tonnage of 112mt would be 1.3% up on last year and a new record.

Indian stocks have fallen in recent years due to exporting wheat when prices were high. Currently wheat stocks at the end of last year were just 9m tonnes which is the lowest since 2007-08.

Australia and Ukraine have been the main wheat exporters to India but with shipping currently very difficult through the red sea this could cause problems for the Ukraine and would see Australia getting more of the imports to India. The EL Nino weather in Australia has caused a reduction in tonnage of wheat but not as much as first thought and will see a crop of around 26mt.

The La Nina weather is forecast to come back to Australia later this year which will mean higher rainfall and a larger wheat crop which is forecast at 28.4mt.

There is also a 77% possibility that a La Nina weather event in Argentina in October which usually brings dry weather could affect their wheat crop.

With May futures at £164.50/t and November at £183/t this means there is still a price carryover of around £18/t and this will tempt some growers who have not already sold to hang on until the autumn.


There is no shortage of maize with a world crop estimated at 1232mt which would be 76mt up on last year.

It is thought that China has bought up to 20 cargoes of maize and feed grain amounting to 1.2mt from Ukraine which has strengthened the price of maize.


Delivered feed barley remains at a price discount to wheat which was approximately £18.50/t but has now reduced to around £6-£8/t.

The UK, as it is with wheat, is not competitive on exports for either old or new crop but with spring planting still to get underway there is little pressure on prices to be export competitive as no surplus barley for harvest 2024 has been planted.

By March 4 the UK had exported approximately 450,000t which compares to the 800,000t of barley exported in the previous year.

Weather issues are causing problems in France where only 28% of their spring barley crop has been planted as of March 4 normally 71%.

Oilseed Rape

This year there has been a significant amount of pressure on oilseed prices as large crops are forecast from South America and the markets for protein are weak due to lower demand which is not helping rapeseed crusher margins and is leading to lower prices.

In January the EU broke record levels of rapeseed crushing with 1.76mt tonnes being processed but this was not enough to support any rallies in the market as a higher crush level is required to reduce the current surplus.

More recently crush margins have been slightly better due to vegetable oil strength which has helped prices and China has set its total grain output to 650,000t with a focus on increasing oilseed area and yields.

Oilseed rape delivered Erith has risen by £11/t over the past week to £360.50/t due to stronger EU prices but long-term prices will remain on a downward trend which has been the case since the end of November 2023.

The forecast for next year’s EU rapeseed production is 18.3mt which would be nearly 8% below harvest 2023 total of 19.9mt and this would see more imports, mainly from Ukraine and Australia.