The majority of the winter barley has now been harvested and would have been completed by now if the weather had been more favourable. The continual rain has caused the harvest to date to be very intermittent, but the barley cut so far has generally proved to be of adequate quality and has yielded very well with some crops being claimed to have achieved in excess of 10 tonnes/hectare. There are concerns now, though, that the ongoing wet conditions, with a poor forecast for the near future, will start to have detrimental effects on the quality of the grain still to harvest.
Quite a substantial proportion of wheat crops are showing the effects of the weather and many are well swung over if not completely flat to the ground. With the soil now carrying a lot of moisture, these crops will take longer to dry out, be harder to harvest and more than likely will have lost quality due to sprouting or mouldy growth on the grain. However, the crops do show promise on their yield ability too and reports of large crops in the south of UK back this expectation up as well. The earliest crops would be ready, weather permitting, to cut within 2 weeks and most wheat would likely be finished by end August if all went to plan.
The markets have been drifting gradually lower over the past couple of weeks, mainly due to the size of the harvested crops in France and England to date along with the ongoing trade battle between US and China. The one main area of support in the UK is the weakness of Sterling whilst Brexit continues to rumble toward a more possible no-deal situation. Wheat futures have reached a recent low of £143 for November 2019 and there are concerns that this may not be the bottom of the market yet. This has pushed barley values down too, with ex farm for feed trading around £120, and there is now a developing resistance by farmers to sell into these levels if they can be avoided.