UK producers to increase rapeseed plantings
UK farmers are likely to increase rapeseed plantings even as wheat harvest was far better than expected during a dry spring.
Farm officials pegged the newly-finished UK wheat harvest at a three year high of 15.4 million tonnes, well above figures below 14 million tonnes being talked of during one of the country's driest springs on record.
Indeed, the average yield, at 7.8 tonnes per hectare, was above last year's, after "rain arrived in time for the grain-fill period, which was then extended by a period of cooler temperatures", the farm ministry, Defra, said.
Damage from the "very dry" spring was "confined to those on lighter soils", and notably farms in the east of England, the only area to suffer a drop in wheat yields.
Even so, despite wheat proving its resilience, it is rapeseed which is winning in growers' sowing plans for the 2012 harvest.
This year's harvest reaped a record 2.78 million tonnes of the oilseed, off sowings which, at 705,000 hectares, also set an all-time high.
"Early indications from autumn 2011 plantings indicate this upward trend in oilseed production is set to continue," Defra said.
"Prices have proved attractive for growers with an increased demand for biodiesel."
The small print of European Union efforts to encourage biodiesel, saying raw materials must come from sources deemed sustainable, has enhanced the impact of a regional rapeseed production deficit.
The shortfall topped 2.5 million tonnes in 2010-11, and is to rise to nearly 3 million tonnes in the current season, on USDA
The tightness has helped keep rapeseed prices relatively firm, with Paris rapeseed for November standing at EUR430.50 (US$578.85) a tonne on Thursday (Oct 6), only 1.3% below its level before September's liquidation.
A Canadian estimate this week of a 12.9 million tonnes crop of canola, the rapeseed variant, below estimates of 13.8 - 14.2 million tonnes, has also supported prices.
Paris wheat for November delivery has lost 11% since the end of August, and London wheat for November 15%.
Cargill-owned AWB last week unveiled a programme for Australian canola supplies to win access to Europe as sustainable crop.