The wheat yield in England grew this year at its fastest in nearly 30 years – although this reflects in the main the paucity of the 2012 harvest, and will not prevent the need for "above normal" imports.
The National Farmers Union, following a harvest survey, pegged the English wheat yield at 7.8 tonnes per hectare, with quality deemed "excellent" too.
The yield figure represented a rise of 16% year on year, the fastest since 1984 – although that reflected the paucity of last year's harvest, hurt by England's wettest year on record, which also got the 2013 crops off to a poor start.
Indeed, with wheat plantings down 19% thanks to the wet autumn, the NFU cautioned that the harvest, which accounts for the vast majority of UK output, would prove "much lower" than last year's figure.
"As a result we would expect to see the UK importing above-normal volumes of wheat for the second year running," the NFU said.
Indeed, UK imports started strong in 2013-14, and are believed to have remained buoyant into this month too, in part thanks to advance orders by mills before the good quality of this year's crop was confirmed.
"The high quality meant much more of what has been harvested would be of value to the food industry this year," Andrew Watts, NFU combinable crops board chairman, said.
"I would hope it would mean British companies using a higher proportion of British wheat in their products."
However, there has been some talk that some bakers, having grown accustomed in 2012-13 to qualities of flour from imported wheat, have retained a taste for foreign supplies.
Indeed, many traders have warned that, thanks to the extent of imports, the UK will require plenty of wheat exports too, requiring prices to maintain competitiveness with those from rival shipping countries.
'May not help much'
UK grain traders at a major European commodities house said that the supply surplus created by the strong imports "may actually be of low grade milling or soft wheat", rather than the feed wheat which usually account for the bulk of UK exports.
"But with milling premiums on the Continent virtually zero, this may not help much" in supporting prices.
"What's more, although we have had a relatively dry harvest this year, we would still struggle to achieve the 14% maximum moisture required by most North African and Middle Eastern importers."
London feed wheat for November eased 0.5% to £155.10 a tonne in morning deals in London.