The UK harvest has begun well for winter barley, with
reports of above-normal yields, but only started off an average footing for
rapeseed, thus far defying expectations for a strong crop.
The first 50,000 hectares of crops combined, progress in
line with the usual pace as of mid-July, is showing "better-than-average"
yields, consultancy Adas said.
Yields, for which the 10-year average is 6.4 tonnes per
hectare, have been particularly strong in the West Midlands, where they have
come in at 7.6 tonnes per hectare so far overall, with some crops in Shropshire
and Worcestershire yielding 9.6 tonnes per hectare.
In the South West, where the winter barley harvest is more
than one-quarter finished, the yield has averaged 6.7 tonnes per hectare, with
poorer results from lighter land dragging down the mean.
'Bit of a
For rapeseed, the average yield has come in "close to" the
long-term mean of 3.3 tonnes per hectare, with reports of results as high as
4.5 tonnes per hectare in the South East, Adas said.
The comments tally with market talk, with traders at one
major European commodities house flagging earlier that "rapeseed yields seem to
be close to average".
However, they added that this "is being seen in the market
as a bit of a disappointment from such good-looking crops".
For winter barley, talk was that yields have been "good on
the whole", although "it may be because we've only seen the lighter land crops
so far", with more data needed to establish a general trend.
Indeed, Adas highlighted that, for rapeseed, its information
was "biased towards early maturing crops in southern England.
"These early crops are often ones where there were problems
that have caused early ripening, so early yields may not be representative of
the final yield figure."
The consultancy made no comment on prospects for the wheat
crop, for which harvest does not typically begin until late July, but which Strategie Grains separately on Thursday said could show quality damage from recent rains, which have
threatened ratings of crops in many continental countries too.
In fact, rainfall for the week to Tuesday was modest for the
UK overall, at 9mm, with the West Midlands receiving only 2mm-3mm.
However, for the important Eastern growing region, including
the key East Anglia cereals belt, rains reached 33mm, with the county of
Suffolk receiving 72mm, equivalent to nearly 3 inches.
"Conditions were wettest in the Eastern counties with some
localised torrential downpours and intermittent showers," Adas said.
The US Department of Agriculture last week kept at 5.9m
tonnes its estimate for overall UK barley production this year, a figure down
16.8% year on year, reflecting the drop in spring sowings, after farmers got
more winter plantings completed in 2013 than in the sodden autumn of 2012.
The rapeseed harvest was pegged at 2.53m tonnes, a rise of
18.9%, also reflecting the improved conditions for planting winter crops.