Wheat prices eased in the past week as the world harvest was larger than predicted, offering hope to bakers that flour prices may follow suit.

Wheat futures prices (LIFFE, November 2011 contract) fell from £156.65 per tonne on September 29 to £145.50 as BB went to press, on 4 October, on the back of revised estimates of world wheat production by the US Department of Agriculture.

The government agency forecast world wheat production in 2011/12 would be 678.1 million tonnes, up six million on the previous month’s estimate. Canada’s wheat crop was predicted to be up 2.5m tonnes to 24m tonnes, and EU wheat production was up 2.3m tonnes to 135.8m tonnes. Harvests in Germany, France and Spain were better than expected, while in the UK the HGCA said the estimated average UK wheat yield was expected to be 4% below the five-year average at about 7.5 t/ha.

The quality of the winter wheat crop in the UK was good, with grain protein levels averaging 12.6-12.8%, according to ADAS’ final harvest report, produced on behalf of the HGCA. It also described milling wheat quality as being good, with most at 12.8-13% protein, and Hagberg falling numbers around 300 seconds. For both group 1 and 2 milling wheat, specific weight, Hagberg falling number and protein levels look set to be up on last year’s harvest.