Scottish spring barley production is expected to fall by 17 per cent this year
BARLEY prices have not increased enough to compensate for lower yields, according to NFU Scotland (NFUS).
Scottish farms are expected to produce 2.8 million tonnes of cereal this year, down 11 per cent on the year.
Spring barley is expected to fall 17 per cent to 1.27mt, the lowest since 1998, and winter barley by 15 per cent.
The Scottish Government said the figures were due to ’less than ideal factors affecting the seedbed, growing conditions and the final harvest’.
NFUS policy manager Peter Loggie said it was disappointing but not surprising.
"This year’s harvest was a prolonged affair and many growers are still tidying up," he said.
"What is particularly disappointing is how, despite problems with the harvest in some other countries and the weakening of the pound, there has not been more of an uplift in prices towards what is needed to provide a margin which allows reinvestment."
The International Grain Council raised estimates for global wheat production by 11mt to 747mt as producers outside the EU reported larger yields.
Sam Scott, grain buyer at Cefetra, said: "Farm sellers should look carefully at what agricultural markets are doing and, while prices are up at the moment, supply and demand fundamentals remain in surplus and upside movement may be limited."
He said, despite the uncertain outlook from distillers, the Scottish market looked 'encouraging'.
"Wheat is being exported at a good pace from southern UK ports and, with both ethanol plants in full production, prices are well supported.
"Prices have also benefited from the post-Brexit currency movements and last week’s flash crash."
The UK wheat crop is expected to be about 14.5mt and barley about 6.7mt, with yields down about 11 per cent, according to Defra’s first wheat crop estimate.
Mike Hambly, NFU combinable crops board chairman, said farmers needed access to technology to 'tackle volatility'.
"We are competing with other countries which have access to other plant protection and breeding technologies," he said.
"Obviously, it is affected by weather conditions, but access to technology is important to mitigate the effect these weather conditions can have."