The German wheat harvest looks like becoming ever more
crucial for determining the fate of Europe's wheat supplies – as a source of
high quality grain for lifting France's poor offering, and for lifting
offerings from the like of the UK too.
Initial talk of the German wheat harvest - the European
Union's second-biggest, and the top source of hard, higher protein grain – is
mixed, with reports of decent results in the north of the country but in the
south, some of the rain damage which has afflicted the French crop.
"The weather has improved somewhat in France now but only
because the worst of the rain has moved to Germany, Poland and other parts of
central Europe," traders at a major European commodities house said.
"Already there are concerns about the crop in southern
Germany," the traders said, adding that in neighbouring Poland, while farmers
have "not seen any problems yet" regarding Hagberg falling number, a major flour
milling specification, "proteins are very variable".
World Weather said that "too much rain continues to fall in
small grain harvest areas of Europe," with a drier spell due for the second
half of the week to prove temporary, as "more rain will develop Saturday
through Tuesday of next week".
"Grain and winter oilseed quality issues will remain and harvest
progress will advance rather slowly."
More will be known on Wednesday on the German harvest, when
the Deutscher Bauernverband farmers' group unveils a harvest report.
A spokesman for the DBV, declined to trail the results of
the briefing, but told Agrimoney.com that harvest weather had been "good" in
the north and east of the country, but "not so good" in parts of the south.
Rains at harvest time can prove a big setback to quality, in
encouraging sprouting and a reduction in protein levels which lowers the
fitness of wheat for milling, potentially rendering it fit only for livestock
Indeed, German wheat looks like being in particular demand
not just from its usual customer base, but from shippers in countries where
rain has meant disappointing availability of wheat with the quality to meet
French crop has been notably affected by late rains, with
talk of half the crop coming in with a Hagberg falling number – in essence, a
test for sprouting – below the 180 seconds level which domestic millers
typically use as a minimum, and well beneath levels above 200 seconds demanded
by many major importing countries.
"French shippers are searching the rest of Europe to find
some better quality wheat to set against the considerable tonnage they have
already sold," traders at a European commodities house said.
"Reports suggest that they have bought substantial
quantities of wheat in Germany and Poland last week."
Mix and match
Where possible, the German wheat will be blended into rain-affected
supplies to lift their quality specifications – a dynamic expected in the UK
too, although against a different harvest background, so far.
In the UK, primarily a producer of lower quality and feed
wheat, thanks largely to its wetter climate, an unusually dry summer so far has
meant quality specifications from the early harvest beating average levels
considerably, according to market sources.
That has created the potential for mixing with imported hard
wheat supplies, typically from Germany or Canada, to turn moderate quality UK wheat
into something worth an extra premium on export markets.
"Protein is the one thing that is relatively easy to fix
through blending," a UK grain trader told Agrimoney.com.
"That's what millers do."
The European commodities house said that UK wheat may be
blended up to "an acceptable specification for North African markets- possibly
using a mixture of good quality hard feed wheat with some lower protein Group 1
and 2 thrown in to improve the gluten characteristics".