High hopes for UK harvest drives feed price optimism
LIVESTOCK farmers could see a welcome drop in feed prices thanks to a turn in fortunes in the arable sector, according to market experts.
Analysts were speaking as fields were abuzz with machinery this week, as harvest got under way in many more areas of the UK.
A run of good weather, which saw the mercury hit a seven-year high of 33.5degC in London on Monday, has not only boosted crops but brought with it a sense of optimism across the entire UK farming world.
The balmy temperatures have also been replicated in areas across the world, leading to a drop in commodity prices as stocks are replenished.
Commodities manager at Countrywide Colin Shepherd, said farmers could potentially pay £40 to £50 per tonne less for wheat compared to last year.
Mr Shepherd said: “It obviously depends on how far in advance you bought in last year. With soya, those who left it beyond June/July were paying about £400/t. Now we are seeing farmers paying £320/t.
“This has come off the back of two good crops in South America and North America where harvest is under way now.
“However, previous crops were poor so the stocks are still low. We will see prices come down lower again if the weather stays good for the pod fill stage in the States.”
And Mr Shepherd was confident livestock farmers could see their feed costs reduce compared to last year.
He said: “If people bought well in advance last year they will probably pay about the same this year. Overall, farmers should be looking at a saving of 10 to 15 per cent on their feed costs.”
But chief agronomist for north and east Europe at Yara Mark Tucker, issued a word of warning. He said there would be ‘huge variability’ in the UK crop and yields would be driven down by large patches where crops have died off due to compaction and the recent dry spell.
NFU combinable crops adviser James Mills said some areas of wheat and winter barley on lighter land were looking stressed, but the break in the heatwave, which saw up to 50mm of rain fall in some areas, provided a much needed boost to thirsty crops and parched land.
Growers across the UK remain optimistic about this year’s harvest, with those in Scotland and Wales extremely grateful for a return to more seasonal temperatures during the last six weeks.
Ulster Farmers Union cereals committee chairman Jon Best added: “Two months ago we were looking at a really bad harvest but it is surprising what a bit of good weather can do to crops.
“We are still behind but after such a terrible start last autumn and in the spring, things are definitely looking up.”
And fears over a potential shortage of straw appear to have reduced for many experts who claimed the good weather had caused many crops to catch-up.