Adas enhanced fears for the UK wheat harvest by saying
that wet conditions had prevented farmers from a late catch-up on winter
sowings, and raising its estimate of the proportion of the crop at risk.
The consultancy, which in November cautioned that growers
had been able to plant only 25% of winter wheat thanks to persistent damp, said
that there had been "no significant drilling" since because of further rains.
Rainfall between September and February averaged 50% higher
"A few [farmers] have tried broadcasting and others have
drilled in the frost, but over all there has been little increase in the area
of winter wheat drilled since November," Adas said, in comments released
minutes after European Commission grain officials cautioned over "excessive precipitation" in the UK.
'Very poor growth'
Much of what has been planted as struggled with slugs
encouraged by the wet conditions, and with high soil water levels, besides
compaction from what fieldwork has been done.
"Saturated soils reduce oxygen availability for the roots,
resulting in some very poor growth on the wettest fields, especially on heavier
ground," Adas said.
"Of the [wheat] crops that have been drilled many have
struggled to establish in cold, wet soils resulting in low plant populations
with reduced levels of tillering."
The consultancy raised to 10%, from 7%, the proportion of UK
winter wheat "estimated to be of questionable viability", forecasting that "at
least half" of that area will be reseeded with spring crops.
'It has been terrible'
The data suggest a sharp drop in UK wheat production in
2013-14 even assuming a rise in spring plantings of the grain and a recovery in
yield from last year's 20-year low of 6.7 tonnes per hectare.
Spring wheat typically yields far less than autumn-sown
varieties, although tends to be of higher quality.
Indeed, at Gleadell, the UK grain merchant, trading manager
Jonathan Lane said that data implied a crop well below the roughly 12m tonnes the
market has appeared to be trading.
Strategie Grains has forecast a total UK soft wheat crop of
12.4m tonnes, with Gleadell forecasting a figure near 11m tonnes.
"It has been terrible, which people appreciate when they go
out and actually look at the crops," he told Agrimoney.com.
'Serious levels of
Adas was less downbeat on winter barley, if cautioning that "the
reduced tillering over winter due to the cold and wet soils may mean that some
crops will have reduced yield potential".
Oats that were drilled in the optimal autumn sowing window "have
survived the cold, windy, wet conditions of the winter better than the other cereals".
However, the consultancy restated a forecast that 20% of
winter oilseed rape was of "questionable viability", and of which at least half
was expected to be reseeded.
"Late drilling, wet soils and slug pressure all combined to
give poor establishment in a significant proportion of winter oilseed rape
crops, with low plant numbers and small, slow-growing plants a feature of many
"Slugs have caused serious levels of damage in oilseed rape
and have been responsible for the failure of many crops," with pigeon grazing "likely
to put the viability" of backward crops at risk, and phoma, a fungal disease,
Gleadell has forecast a UK rapeseed crop as low as 1.7m
tonnes – down by one-third year on year, although many market forecasts are at
about 2.0m tonnes or above.