July 29, 2011


UK rapeseed crop better than expected, barley discouraging



Farmers in the UK may achieve better rapeseed yields than expected, but winter barley crops may have been negatively affected by the dry spring.


UK-based environmental consultancy Adas said the UK rapeseed harvest could end up at up to 3.7 tonnes per hectare, beating last year's record of 3.5 tonnes per hectare, after results from the early harvest revealed yields some 10% ahead of the average.


"The majority of winter oilseed rape is grown on heavier soil types and appear to be less affected by the dry spring, aided by good crop establishment in the autumn and a lower water requirement compared to cereals," Adas said.


The higher yield echoes data from the French harvest, and have been blamed for a fall of some GBP10 (US$16.35) a tonne in UK rapeseed prices over the past week to less than GBP370 (US$604.79) a tonne, although doubts remain over production further east in Germany, usually Europe's top rapeseed grower, and Poland.


However, results from the first 30% of barley harvested showed the crop had been worse affected by the lack of spring rains, especially on less moisture-retentive soils, with yields coming in "highly variable" yields, and some 10% behind the average.


Yields varied from four to seven tonnes per hectare on light land, but are often higher on heavier land, where they were reaching up to nine tonnes per hectare, according to Adas.


Adas forecast the UK winter barley yield ending up at 5.6-6 tonnes per hectare, compared with an average of 6.5 tonnes per hectare.


The crop could potentially prove the worst since at least the 1990s, falling below the yield of 5.8 tonnes per hectare recorded in 2001.


Test samples on winter barley had also shown nitrogen content high in some malting samples, rising above 1.7%. But the specific weight of the crop was deemed "good", at 64-69 kilogrammes per hectolitre.

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