The generally warm and dry conditions have carried on this month following the 48.5mm of August rain here in the eastern Borders – but there have been some very heavy, localised downpours.

This week, temperatures were easing slightly, but this followed some warm weather earlier in the month where at Charterhall, in the Borders, recorded the highest temperature in more than a century in Scotland for the month of September to reach 28.8°C and was the highest temperature for this month since 1906, or 115 years ago.

The highest temperature across the UK in August was in Scotland which reached 27.2°C at Tyndrum, on August 25 and these two high temperature readings helped Scotland to experience its fourth hottest summer on record.

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The recent spell of weather has seen harvest progress at pace as combines and balers enjoyed working in dry sunny conditions, which also helped keep drying costs down.

Winter crops have been going in well and already many fields are rowed up and getting a good start to next year’s harvest, especially with some rain and warm weather giving them a great start.

According to AHDB, on September 7 the GB winter wheat harvest was 90% complete, with harvest having progressed rapidly over the previous two weeks. The national winter wheat yield is now forecast at 8.1-8.3t/ha, which is slightly down on the last harvest figure of 8.0-8.4 t/ha when harvest was 46% complete but this is still above the five-year average of 8.0t/ha.

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The spring barley harvest at the same date was reported at 85% complete and the early harvested spring barley crops are yielding 12% ahead of the five-year average, at 5.8-6.2t/ha.

The progress of both the winter and spring oat harvest is now pretty full on at 77% complete, which is slightly back on the five-year average of 82% and yields for both winter and spring oats currently range from 4.8-8.5t/ha.

Given the previous planted area surveys and provisional yields to date for wheat, this would look like a wheat crop in the region of 14.5m tonnes for the UK and would be a big increase from last year’s wheat crop of 9.7m tonnes. England alone is expected to produce 13.3m tonnes which would be a 54% year-on-year increase on last year and a 5% increase on the five-year average.

However, in the past five seasons, UK wheat consumption has averaged 14.7m tonnes per season and with demand from the bioethanol sector likely to rise following the introduction of E10 fuel, the UK is looking to be heading towards another tight supply season.

Global wheat production has been revised downwards to 769.5m tonnes and world stocks-to-use ratio at 36.2%, down 15.2m tonnes and down by 1.6% on the report in July, but overall supplies in 2021-22 remain adequate. Despite those reductions to wheat, coarse grain output for 2021-22 is still 19.4m tonnes or 1.3% higher than the previous year.

World wheat traders are concerned about Black Sea supplies, with Russia cutting its wheat production forecasts once again from 76.2m tonnes down to 75.4m tonnes and steady demand is helping to keep prices elevated, with tenders coming in from countries in North/ West Africa, Asia and Egypt.

The US and Canada are also seeing poor yields, especially in Canada where the wheat crop is expected to fall to 22.95m tonnes compared to 35.18m tonnes last year. If realised, this will be Canada’s smallest crop for 14 years.

Persistent excessive heat and drought for much of the growing season decimated yield potential for Canada, which is normally one of the world’s major wheat exporters. Last season, it exported 27.5m tonnes of wheat and ranked third in wheat export tonnage, behind Russia and the EU and just ahead of the US.

The aftermath of Hurricane Ida also resulted in market pressure following the damage caused to export terminal facilities in the US Gulf Coast. This has seen maize futures fall to their lowest level for almost eight weeks.

Further pressure for world maize prices has come from the Ukraine, which expected a record crop of 39.3m tonnes, or 9m tonnes up on last year. This will provide strong competition for exports to China, where consumption of animal feed this season is reckoned to be 3m tonnes below recent forecasts due to low pig prices.

Grains and oilseed supplies have been delayed as US' Gulf Coast ports have been responsible for 54% of US grain and oilseed exports this year to date. A quick return to full operational capacity is required as soon as possible.

This caused prices to fall and as of September 13, the Liffee November, 2021, feed wheat futures stood at £183 having been at £194.25 on the 1st of the month; May, 2022, wheat futures currently stand at £189.20 per tonne, down from £199.25; and November, 2022, is at £174.10, down from £175.50 per tonne.

Prices may have eased, but if we go back to mid-September last year, November, 2021, wheat futures stood at £154; May, 2021, were at £159.05, and November, 2021, stood at £153 per tonne, so prices are still some £30 above this time last season.

Grain prices are also not being helped by the USDA report which showed a potential for larger US maize and soyabean crops, but this encouraged other countries to come back into the market with Saudi Arabia, The Philippines, Jordan and Tunisia all issuing new tenders for wheat this week.

Saudi Arabia lowered the specific weight required down to 76kg/hl as quality wheat from France is very scarce, with only 30% of their wheat crop exceeding this level, compared to 98% achieved last year. Their Hagberg falling number is also an issue, with only 67% meeting the minimum 220 spec'.

With up to 70% of French wheat only at feed standard, traditional UK feed wheat export destinations will have more opportunity to buy feed quality elsewhere.

Romania and Ukraine have had good wheat harvests and have provided the most competitive offers in recent tenders for wheat. Romania is looking at a record breaking 11.4m tonnes and Ukraine is expecting to produce 32m tonnes, up from 25.5m tonnes last year.

Australia has increased its wheat crop estimate to 32.6m tonnes, which is up by 17% from the June estimate of 27.8m tonnes due to exceptionally favourable growing conditions in June and July. Some forecasters are arguing the wheat crop could beat last season’s record crop of 33.3m tonnes.

Following lower feed wheat prices, UK feed barley is now at the smallest discount to wheat this season so far at around £10 per tonne. At this level, UK feed rations will switch into wheat and away from barley, which would change the UK domestic demand for both wheat and barley as in 2020-21 the discount gap averaged £44.20 and sometimes it was more than £50 per tonne.

In the UK, the use of barley in July remained high as animal feed compounders and poultry units used 130,700 tonnes of barley, which was a record for the month. Last week, ex-farm feed barley was worth £170.80 per tonne on average across the UK – that was the highest price since the end of June and the highest price at the beginning of September since 2012 and again this was in part to the reduced barley crop in Canada but also due to a later UK barley harvest.

Our barley harvest quality has been good, with very low nitrogen and good screening levels. Malting quality samples appear, in general, to be acceptable and this may influence prices given there's more available supplies, but so far as feed prices ease, malting premiums have increased to around £30 per tonne and could go higher.

Despite a slow start to the barley harvest, the UK will have exported an estimated 300,000 tonnes by the end of October, mainly from the South of England to countries such as Algeria, Tunisia and Turkey, but there will be strong competition for sales from Black Sea countries as well.

Oilseed rape prices have seen new contract highs this past week with prices £10 up from the start of the month. Current price levels are close to all-time highs and £150 more than they were last autumn.

Rapeseed supplies will be tight throughout 2021-22 and especially in Europe due to a lack of canola supplies from Canada, where they are expecting a crop of 14.75m tonnes as yields fall by as much as 35-40% due to drought.

Australia, though, is looking at a record oilseed crop this year of 5.04m tonnes, which would represent a 20% increase on its June estimate. Larger crops are also reported in Belarus and Ukraine, but these increases will only account for 15% of the 3.7m tonnes fall in Canadian canola exports.

One issue to watch over the next three months in Australia is rainfall, as they are expecting more than normal, and this could delay harvest and possibly impact on quality.

Prices being so high is influencing demand and it is expected that the European rapeseed crush figure will be at its lowest for eight years. Sunflower oil consumption is projected to rise by 14% in the EU following increased imports from the Black Sea and increased production in Romania, Bulgaria, France and Hungary and EU rape oil production is expected to fall by over 6% in 2021-22.

The UK bean harvest is now well underway, especially further south and quality has been variable but better than last year with beans being larger and bruchid levels generally low.

Feed bean prices have remained steady, despite falling wheat prices as new crop Australian beans exported to the UK will be coming into the country later in the year at very keen prices.

Peas, in general, have yielded quite well but with variable quality. Prices range from £210 per tonne for feed and up to £260 for best quality but there is limited spot demand due to a large carry over of old crop.