Better start for GB harvest 2021 winter crops: Grain market daily

Friday, 4 December 2020

Market commentary

  • Global wheat prices continued to decline yesterday, partly because the 2020 Canadian wheat crop was confirmed as the biggest in seven years.
  • May-21 UK feed wheat futures fell £2.10/t yesterday to £188.90/t. The Nov-21 contract fell £1.30/t to £156.85/t.
  • In contrast, Paris rapeseed futures prices rose yesterday. The May-21 contract was up €3.25/t to €402.50/t and Nov-21 contract gained €2.25/t to €389.75/t.
  • The increase in rapeseed prices followed a rise in soyabean and palm oil values, due to worries for crops in South America. Rain in recent days has helped South American crops, but more is needed.

Helen Plant

Senior Analyst - cereals & oilseeds

Better start for GB harvest 2021 winter crops

Unsurprisingly winter crops for harvest 2021 are off to a better start than last year’s crops. This is the main finding in AHDB’s first crop development report for the 2021 new crop; the full report is available here.

This autumn still presented challenges for growers and crops, but these were not as severe as last autumn.

Many growers planted crops early this autumn to try and avoid the experiences of autumn-winter 2019. After rain in August this season, dry weather through most of September meant a good start to planting.

The majority of rapeseed was planted in August, with around 25% planted in September. Early sown crops are well established thanks to moist soils and little pest activity. Crops sown from early September onwards were slower to establish and had more issues with cabbage stem flea beetle.

Cereal planting got off to an early start. However, heavy rain fell at the end of September and into October, which led to wet soils, slowing cereal planting. However, conditions improved again in November and drilling of winter wheat and barley was complete by the end of November, along with 93% of winter oats.

Later drilled cereal crops suffered from poor seedbeds and waterlogging in many regions. However, by the end of November winter crops were still doing better than last year.

Impact on prices?

Despite the challenges, the areas of winter cereals and rapeseed were largely planted as planned. Our Early Bird Survey, out last week, showed that farmers intended to plant or had planted less rapeseed and more winter cereals than for harvest 2020.

Crops are in a better condition that last year currently, meaning it’s more likely that these areas will be confirmed.

UK rapeseed prices will need to stay high compared to European and global levels to trigger imports next season. The smaller area could offset any possible recovery in yields and still mean a historically small crop.

New crop wheat futures are much lower than old crop prices, because the larger area means we could have a much larger crop for 2021/22. This means there is no incentive to store the 2020 crop beyond the end of this marketing season.

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