Although we are now into July, it does not really feel like summer has arrived as temperatures are still below what we would expect by now and this chilly weather influenced by the jet stream is forecast to continue well into this month.

June was colder than average with snow falling in some areas for eight consecutive days. In Scotland, last May was the warmest on record with an average temperature of 12.3°C, beating the previous high in 2018 by 1.6°C.

We had 27.6mm of rain in June here in the Borders to give a total for the year of 375mm, or 14.7 inches, which is a lot less than other areas in Scotland have had.

According to the Met Office, rainfall over the UK from September, 2023, to May, 2024, was the greatest on record since 1836, at 1157mm or 45.5 inches. It was 25% above the five-year average from 2018/19-2022/23.

The huge amount of rain across the UK saw a lot of intended winter and spring crops not able to be planted and coupled with the lowest sunshine hours since 1995-96 means crops have not grown as well as they should have.

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Planting survey

The AHDB’s latest planting survey for the 2024 harvest indicated that Great Britain will have the lowest cereals and oilseed rape planted area in more than 20 years.

The survey conducted from mid-April to mid-June this year shows a 5% drop in planted areas to the lowest level for over two decades.

There is a slight rise of 6% in the barley area and 9% in the oat area which is more than offset by the reduction of 9% in planted wheat area and 21% down in the oilseed rape planted area. If we look at the individual crops, we see that the UK total wheat area is forecast to be 1.56m ha, 9% down on last year and is the second smallest planted area since 1981.

UK Group 1 varieties remain relatively stable at 24%, but the Group 2 variety share has dropped from 21% in 2023 to 19% this year, while Group 3 has gone down from 4% to 2%. The area share of Group 4 is estimated at 49% which is the highest area since 2016.

The total UK barley area is up 6% at 1.207m ha which is 1% more than the five-year average. Due to the poor autumn weather, the winter barley area fell 12% to 402,000 ha which is 2% below the five-year average, while the spring barley area compensated by being up 18% to an estimated 804,000 ha – the third largest for at least 20 years.

Across the GB total malting, brewing and distilling varieties account for 68% – up from 57% in 2023, while total feed only accounts for 32%.

The GB oat area is up by 9% from last year to 180Kha but is still 2% below the five-year average.

Our oilseed rape area is estimated to be down by 21% to 307,000 ha and would be the second lowest area since 2000 and 59% below the previous high area in 2012.

GB total cereals area will be down 3% to 2.916m ha – the lowest since 2007. For GB, total cereals and oilseed rape area is down 5% to 3.223m ha which is the lowest area since at least the millennium, mainly due to the historically low OSR area.

Crop ratings

Having looked at the various crop areas for this year, the condition of those crops is also important leading up to harvest.

Winter barley crops are now turning fast and sunshine would do a lot of good to ripen the crop. Across GB, 11% of winter barley is in very poor or poor condition, down from 17% in May, but still higher than last year’s 4%. Some 14% of the winter wheat crop is rated very poor or poor, down from 18% in May, but higher than the 7% figure of last year.

Spring barley is rated at 71% good or excellent which is up from 53% at this time last year and the spring oat crop is rated at 77% good or excellent, compared to 69% last year.

Winter oilseed rape is rated at 21% very poor to poor but much better than last year at this time which had a rating of 11% and desiccation has now started in some areas.

Global wheat and maize

The US wheat area is 2.3m acres down from last year which should see some support for wheat prices.

US farmers have planted 91,475m acres of maize, which is nearly 1.5m acres more than previous estimates and is one reason for a 260,000-acre reduction in their previous wheat area forecast.

The US winter wheat harvest is now 54% complete, well ahead of the 39% average at this time and last year’s 33%. Its spring wheat is rated as 72% good to excellent, much better than last year’s 48% and the maize crop is put at 67%, compared to 51% last year.

The French wheat crop rating is put at 60%, down from 81% last year and the winter barley crops harvested so far in France are reported to be poor, raising concerns for French wheat potential.

Other crops throughout the EU are expected to be better with potential records in Bulgaria and Romania leading to the EU increasing its wheat crop estimate to 121.9m tonnes.

Wheat futures prices had peaked at the end of May due to concerns over the Russian wheat production for 2024, but these concerns have now eased with better weather and wheat futures have fallen again.

Over the past two weeks, the Liffee feed wheat futures for July, 2024, dropped £3 to £167.45 and for March, 2025, were down £4 to £202.50.

Russian wheat exports are estimated to account for 25% of total global wheat exports as current Russian wheat production estimates stand at 83m tonnes and exports at 48.0m tonnes but these figures appear to change every week depending on the latest weather situation in that region.

Canada is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wheat, often producing high protein milling wheat but this year has planted 1.5% less wheat acres, 10.5% less barley (a seven-year low) and 5.5% fewer oats.

It is, though, the world’s top exporter of rapeseed producing 18.1m tonnes from an unchanged rapeseed area from last year.


The UK barley harvest is expected to start this weekend in the South-east of England, weather permitting.

Prices for barley have been falling since early June but have steadied again. Barley’s discount to wheat has narrowed slightly from £30/t down to around £27, but barley remains a good value in compounders feed rations compared to wheat.

The export market for UK barley remains uncompetitive even with new crop barley trading at a large discount to wheat. Typically, the UK exports a significant volume of feed barley to Europe but this year UK prices have been too high compared to other European countries.

Oilseed rape and soyabeans

Oilseed rape prices have eased upwards as the global harvest is forecast to be down 10.6% on last year due to unfavourable growing conditions in Germany, the Baltic Countries and a reduced area in Canada.

UK delivered prices into Erith for harvest delivery is quoted at £397.50/t, up £11.

Soya prices have also been firm, helped by India which was a strong buyer of vegetable oils, and the USDA has reported that the planting of soya in the US is nearing completion, with 97% of the crop planted by June 23.