Hot weather pushes feed wheat to five-year high

Wheat prices have continued to rise across the UK and Europe as a result of the hot, dry weather.

Although it is hoped the sunshine will boost the quality of wheat, predicted yields have been reduced in much of the EU. Total wheat yield is now forecast at 2.4% below the five-year average across the EU-28 countries, according to the latest European Commission MARS crop monitoring report.

The situation is a major concern to farmers, with the drought also impacting grass growth and limiting the availability of forage – forcing farmers to use winter fodder supplies.

An agricultural drought summit has been called for this week, with farming organisations set to meet with government bodies to discuss what can be done to help mitigate the impact of the heatwave.

Last week, November 2018 feed wheat futures broke above £180 a tonne for the first time since May 2013, according to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board, and bread wheat prices were also increasing.

“Across Europe, harvest estimates have been going down. In the UK and Ireland, there are real concerns about the amount of food available for animals,” said Alex Waugh, director general of the National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers (Nabim).

“Animal feed is quite a big problem. The grass hasn’t been growing, so forage hasn’t been cut for the winter. Consequently, the price of feed ingredients including wheat have been going up – even straw and hay.”

“The better news is that, although it is early days, the quality of wheat seems to be good. There is an expectation things should turn out OK where quality is concerned.”

Mintec said dry weather was continuing to damage the crop in the major European producing countries, particularly in Germany, where production was expected to be down 15% year on year.

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