Early UK harvest results follow promising EU trend


The first results from the UK grains harvest have revealed the country is following the Europe-wide trend of promising results, although the longest heatwave in seven years is raising concerns over less-developed crops.

"We've seen some winter barley cut this week, which again many thought was impossible back in early/mid-June," when crops were still suffering from the hangover of a sodden winter and cold spring, traders at a major European commodities house said.

"Early reports on both yield and quality are good."

At Gleadell, trading manager Jonathan Lane said that the first results from winter barley harvested in southern England showed a protein level of 11.5%, 73-kilogrammes per hectare, an unusually high figure, and a "respectable" yield of about 3 tonnes per acre.

'Looking good for quality'

Another trader Agrimoney.com spoke too talked of a "stonking" bushel weight from south west England barley.

"A trailer which would normally weigh 12 tonnes full is weighing 14 tonnes," the trader said.

"It is looking good for quality across all crops.

"It is looking like being the exact opposite of last year," the second wetter on record in the UK, which depressed wheat yields to a 20-year low, with bushel weights at the lowest since 1977.

'Significantly-above-average harvest'

Such results, significantly better than farmers expected during the dismal start to the growing season, follow a round of upbeat European harvest data, from Spain in the west to Romania on the Black Sea.

Separately on Friday, Toepfer International nudged higher by 60,000 tonnes to 24.24m tonnes its forecast for the German wheat crop, the EU's second largest, saying growing conditions had been "almost optimal" of late.

"The current sunny, but not too warm weather continues to be favourable for crop ripening, so that quality should also be good," it said, forecasting a "significantly-above-average harvest" for both cereals and rapeseed.

The German-based trading house raised by 320,000 tonnes, to 6.04m tonnes, its estimate of the German rapeseed harvest, which is expected to the EU's biggest this year, ahead of France's.

Strong results

On Thursday, Strategie Grains lifted its estimate for the EU wheat harvest by 2.1m tonnes to a five-year high, and the third best on record, citing better harvest hopes in a range of countries.

And on Tuesday, Hungary's agriculture ministry reported a domestic winter wheat yield of 4.6 tonnes per hectare thus far, with 38% of the area harvested, compared with a figure of 3.74 tonnes per hectare last year.

Reports from the French harvest have also been good, with Mr Lane saying that the country had enjoyed "ideal" conditions, with "good" yields and quality specifications.

Gleadell's shareholders include InVivo, the French agricultural co-operative giant.

Heat damage?

In the UK, the biggest potential setback now appeared the hot and dry weather testing crops which, having being sown in moist soils, may not have developed the root systems to cope.

"Another week of 30 degrees [Celsius] will burn some of the wheat crop," one trader said.

Mr Lane said that the conditions could "result in bushel weight issues, pinched grains and a loss of yield".

Expectations for the harvest, which had been at about 12.2 tonnes per hectares a couple of weeks ago, had not fallen back to about 11.8 tonnes per hectare, he said.