While how many winter cereal crops have been drilled and how well they are developing varies greatly across the UK, growers whose progress has been hampered will inevitably need to make new plans and draw up new budgets.
John Barrett, director, Sentry Farms said Norfolk and Suffolk have not suffered as badly as further south and west. “We have covered for some spring wheat and plenty of spring barley. We can drill wheat up to the end of January, and with seed in the shed, would rather do that.”
Richard Means, director rural, based in Strutt & Parker’s Cambridge office said he is encouraging clients to persist with planting winter wheat. “Looking forward to 2020 there is a big discount for barley. For Group 1 milling wheat it is possible to fix a milling premium of £20/t. November 2020 futures are around £150/t, so that’s £170/t. Feed barley is at a £20 discount to feed wheat.
“If barley makes malting quality you may only get a £15/t premium plus £130/t equals £145/t. So the economics mean it is still beneficial to persevere with wheat if we can.”
Looking ahead, although farmers are currently still selling grain from 2019, which saw good yields, for those who have struggled to get crops in there could be potential for cashflow problems down the line.
“Growers need to have a good handle on it, constantly updating the budget for 2020. Where growers don’t get crops in, this will mean a change in cropping plans and revisiting budgets. Generally, resilient businesses will be able to manage their way through this. For those servicing loans it will be tight and they will need to be very cautious.”