German wheat result looks ever more crucial for EU

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."

Data ahead

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 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 feed.

'Bought substantial quantities'

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 commitment.

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

"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".

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