The UK wheat harvest raised its chances of setting a yield
record as it passed the half-way mark, with concerns over protein levels easing
a touch too, boosting the chance of a strong revival in exports.
Crop consultancy Adas raised to 8.2-8.5 tonnes per hectare,
from 8.0-8.2 tonnes per hectare, its estimate of the average UK wheat yield
after a week in which growers put one-quarter of the crop in the barn, taking harvest
progress to 55%.
The yield forecast leaves the UK, the European Union's
third-ranked wheat producer, with a good chance of at least matching its
current yield record, of 8.3 tonnes per hectare, set in 2008, and easily
topping last year's 7.7-tonnes-per-hectare result.
With UK farmers having planted some 2m hectares of wheat, the
country looks ever-more-certain to come in with harvest well above 16m tonnes, as
forecast by INTL FCStone last week.
The US Department of Agriculture pegged the crop at 15.4m tonnes,
with the International Grains Council foreseeing a 15.5m-tonne harvest.
"Wheat yields are now available for all regions and crops
continue to perform well above the farm average," Adas said.
"Wheat crops established well, early in the season, and had
good plant numbers going into winter.
Both light and heavy land has performed well this season."
Furthermore, the consultancy added that "quality to date is
good" too, with the return of wetter conditions in the last two weeks appearing
not have impaired its charachter.
The crop's bushel weight, at 76 kilogrammes per hectolitre, and
Hagberg falling numbers, at an average of 291 seconds, are "remaining high"
even as harvest proceeds onto fields planted with lower-quality, bigger-yielding feed varieties,
with higher-value milling wheat reaped first.
Indeed, Adas raised to "good" from "low" its rating of the
crop's overall protein result, even while restating that levels in milling
wheat are "lower than ideal".
Milling vs feed
The protein level is viewed as particularly important this
year, as it will be a key determinant of how much UK wheat will be able, with
its otherwise strong specifications, to fill in the void in quality wheat from
countries such as France where harvest time rains turned much milling grain
Traders at a major European commodities house said that the
UK should produce a "small surplus", beyond domestic needs, of high grade milling
wheat "as a blend with some hard feed wheat" to meet the needs of North African
buyers denied their usual French supplies.
However, the UK nonetheless looks like being left with large
amounts of feed wheat which, against a background of a poor quality continental
European harvest and prospects for a huge US corn crop, will suffer a large
discount to milling grain.
"There will not be anything like enough milling wheat
available to blend up all the surplus feed wheat," the traders said.
"It might be possible to put together 1m tonnes or even
slightly more of milling wheat shipments. But the rest of what looks to be a
surplus of over 3m tonnes will have to be sold as basic feed and that's going
to be painful."