Farmers may look back on the 2019/20 grain season as one of the most buffeted by external events they can remember.
It was harvested against a backdrop of uncertainty about Brexit, then prices firmed as tensions rose with Iran and the signing of a trade deal between the US and China.
But now they have come under pressure as the coronavirus spreads beyond China.
Meanwhile, the very wet autumn and winter looks as though it will support late-season demand as UK buyers prepare for shortages from the 2020 crop.
News from the US that the coronavirus would mean a delay in the start of China’s new buying programme for
US agricultural products pushed cereal values down, Frontier analysts said, and the spread of the disease will continue to impact the global grain market.
There has been some support this season from strong export demand globally. So far this season, EU wheat exports are two thirds higher than last at 16.4 million tonnes and shipments from Ukraine have been very high too.
After frantic UK grain export activity in September and October as fears over a no-deal Brexit grew, shipments fell in November.
In the month just 67,700t of UK wheat where exported compared to more than 250,000t in both September and October. In the July to November period 741,500t of wheat were exported, 450 per cent more than in the 2018/19 season.
Barley exports during the five months was at 1.126mt compared to 313,500t the season before.
In November,162,400t were exported, which compared to 292,000t in October.
Some UK growers were able to get back on fields to drill last week but Storm Ciara halted any progress, with showers since the weekend preventing any more work.
It is inevitable there will be a shortage of wheat from the 2020 harvest and that is already being seen in 2020/21 futures prices, where wheat on the London market is trading at a £5 to £10/t premium to Paris wheat.
Supply issues give oilseed some support
ADM reported oilseed prices were supported by Chinese moves to stabilise its economy as it copes with coronavirus and from lower than expected stocks of Malaysian palm oil.
UK oilseed production reduced in 2019 and will fall again in 2020 as growers cut back their area and planted crops have struggled to establish.
An indication of the tight supply is the lack of UK rapeseed exports this season.
In the five months to November only 8,200 tonnes were shipped compared to 41,000t during the same period in 2018/19 and 105,000t in 2017/18.