The UK wheat harvest, entering its final stages, looks ever
more certain to set a yield record, but late-summer rains are beginning to take
a toll on quality.
With 90% of the crop harvested, the yield has averaged
8.4-8.6 tonnes per hectare, consultancy Adas said, nudging higher its estimate
from the 8.3-8.6 tonnes per hectare reported a week ago.
The current record yield is 8.3 tonnes per hectare, set in
"Yields remain above the 10-year average of 7.7 tonnes per hectare,"
"Good establishment conditions in autumn 2013, high tiller
number and winter survival rate and mild temperatures and plentiful sunshine
hours during grain fill have all positively affected yield.
"Crops have tended to yield well across all soil types due
to adequate moisture during the spring and summer."
'Black moulds and
However, the consultancy added that "there are signs that
quality is deteriorating in later harvested crops where rainfall delayed
This is particularly in areas where a pick-up in rainfall since
mid-August has delayed harvesting, Adas said, adding that crops in Southern and
Eastern regions that are still in the field "are starting to develop black
moulds and smuts and are a priority to harvest in the coming week".
In terms of milling specifications, the decline in quality
is evident in Hagberg falling number - in essence a measure of the sprouting in
ripe grain that is encouraged by rains – which Adas now saw averaging 264
That is down from 284 seconds as of a week ago, and the 331
seconds estimates by a preliminary crop report unveiled last week by the HGCA
"Some samples processed over the last week have started to
look dull," Adas said, if adding that specific weights, another key quality
measure "have remained stable" at 76 kilogrammes per hectolitre.
The protein level was pegged at an average of 12%, up 0.1
points on a week ago.
UK wheat quality is being particularly closely watched given the considerable damage to crops in many continental European countries, including France, caused by late rains.
For spring barley, of which the UK harvest is now some 60%
complete, yields are proving "good", with the crop averaging 5.9-6.1 tonnes per
That is above the average of 5.7 tonnes per hectare,
although that is down from the range 6.0-6.3 tonnes per hectare reported a week
"Yields from heavy land have been good despite some poor
drilling conditions and competition from black-grass," Adas said, adding that poorer
results were seen "where crops were planted into poor seedbeds or sown late".
On quality, the crop was coming in with a below-average specific
weight, but showing a "good-to-average" nitrogen level of 1.4%, and "average" screenings.
"Most malting crops are meeting specification," Adas said.
The comments follow an assessment from RMI Analytics, the
malting barley analysis group, which said that the UK crop "continues to be low
in protein, which is good for the distillers.
"But there are more requests for guaranteed minimums of 9.5%
protein to be added to the contract specification. Such requests result in a
premium of E3-4 per tonne."