Germany lifted ideas on the size of the domestic wheat
harvest, but cautioned over some loss of quality, as the UK talked up its
potential to fill some of the void in milling wheat.
Germany's farm ministry pegged the domestic wheat crop, the
European Union's second biggest after that in France, at 27.94m tonnes, a rise
of 11.7% from last year's 25.02m-tonne crop, and well above expectations from
some other forecasters.
The US Department of Agriculture has pegged the harvest at
25.6m tonnes, and industry group Coceral at 25.38m tonnes.
The ministry's figure includes an estimate for winter wheat
of 27.57m tonnes, up 11.9% year on year, and above expectations from the DBV
farmers' association of 26.2m tonnes, and of 26.04m tonnes from ADM Germany,
formerly Toepfer International.
However, the ministry cautioned over the impact of
"frequent" harvest-time rains in many areas which had, in later
crops, encouraged sprouting and rendered some crops not worth harvesting.
Indeed, the quality of the crop was "very varied",
the ministry said, with a "mixed picture" on bushel weights and an
average protein level, placed at 12.0% from initial samples, which was below
last year's result of 12.7%.
"Overall, many wheat consignments are able to be used
only as a feed grain," the ministry said.
"Accordingly, significant premiums for bread-making
wheat are currently being paid."
'Heavily committed on
The results would appear to limit Germany's potential for
filling the void in quality wheat presented by the damage to crops in many
other European countries - notably France, the EU's top producer and exporter -
from harvest-time rains.
On average protein, the samples from German, renowned as a
supplier of hard wheat, are measuring little better than those in the UK, known
as a grower primarily of feed supplies, where protein levels look like ending
up at an average of 11.7%, according to the HGCA crop bureau.
Provisional UK wheat specifications 2014 and (three-year average)
Specific weight: 78.7 kilogrammes per hectolitre, (78.3kg/hl)
Hagberg falling number: 331 seconds, (303 seconds)
Protein content: 11.7%, (12.3%)
Three-year average excludes 2012, an unusually poor quality harvest
While down on the 12.2% last year, and below the average of
about 12.3%, the UK crop's high score on other measures looks like supporting its
popularity with importers.
"Although the lower protein content is not ideal, it can be
potentially corrected, at a cost, by adding gluten or blending with imported
wheat to meet domestic requirements," the HGCA said.
"It is much more difficult to compensate for low Hagbergs," a
measure of spourting.
"Furthermore, British wheat may still meet export customer
requirements, despite the lower protein content."
Amandeep Kaur Purewal, HGCA senior analyst, said: "A good
quality wheat crop could provide Great Britain with a competitive edge, after
an absence of two seasons from the export market," after the dismally wet 2012
meant a poor-quality harvest that year and a small one in 2013.
At Gleadell, the UK grain merchant, David Sheppard added
that German merchants "are already heavily committed on quality sales to
the Middle East", limiting their ability to meet demand switched from the likes
of Frrance, where wheat quality has proven particularly poor.