This year’s harvest is set to see the biggest wheat yield on record, with grain analysis results also looking ‘very encouraging’, according to NFU survey results.
But the NFU has warned the record yields will only add to the current problems in the marketplace.
The survey results indicate a six per cent wheat yield increase to 9.1 tonnes per hectare in 2015, compared with 8.6t/ha last year.
While planted area was down this year, UK total wheat production is estimated at 16.68 million tonnes for 2015, a slight increase on the 2014 figure of 16.61m t.
The 2015 total production figure is still below the 2008 level of 17.23m t and the 16.7 m t harvested in 2000.
Mike Hambly, NFU combinable crops board chairman, said most quality crops were harvested before excessive rain fell and therefore met specifications for milling and malting.
“However, we are aware some growers in certain areas did suffer deterioration in quality with harvesting delayed by the wet weather in August causing their crops to fail to meet some processors requirements, leading to a consequent downgrading to a lower specification and reduction in price,” he said.
He warned, while the record yields appeared to paint an optimistic picture for arable farming, a sequence of good harvests globally ‘only add to the concerns by growers who fear this will increase pressure on the market’.
Cereal prices had already taken ‘a 30 per cent tumble over the past two years’ and many growers face the prospect grain prices will fail to cover the cost of production, he said.
“For some this will be the second year they have endured such a situation and with forward prices for next harvest also below cost of production some could see no profit from those crops for three consecutive seasons,” he said.
“Cereal prices are global and like most commodities are currently low. For example, we’ve already seen prices, similar to our friends in the dairy sector, and costs of production staying put.
He called for departments across government to ‘take a closer look at how regulation impacts arable farmers’.
“This includes the Department for Transport on their UK cap on crops used for biofuels to bring them back into line with EU targets, the Financial Conduct Authority on essential access to the futures markets for coping with volatile prices.
“We are also encouraging Defra to support our calls for access to the plant protection products that safeguard our yields from loss to disease, weed and pest competition; and for a review of EU fertiliser tariffs that we believe are driving production costs up.”
He said the value of the cereals sector has more than doubled in the past five years to nearly £3.5billion.
“The importance of our part in producing food for the nation, contributing to the economy and creating jobs cannot be underrated,” he said.
The survey also showed ;some very welcome increases against last year’s excellent yields in most of our other major arable crops', Mr Hambly said.
In the case of oilseed rape, this was achieved 'despite some difficult pest control challenges', he said, a reference in part to the neonicotinoid ban.