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This year’s wheat harvest is expected to be slightly higher on the year – despite hot, dry conditions and questions over yields.

This year’s wheat harvest is expected to be slightly higher on the year – despite hot, dry conditions and questions over yields.

Yields are variable this season with crops grown on heavier soil performing better than those grown on lighter land due to lack of moisture retention, according to the latest Cereal Market Outlook published by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

It forecasts an average wheat yield of 7.93t/ha for harvest 2022. With the latest survey results pegging the UK wheat area at 1.807 million hectares – up 1% on 2021 – it puts wheat production at 14.328 million tonnes for 2022.

The AHDB says winter barley yields have averaged well, although spring barley yields have been lower than last year due to adverse conditions. Combined with a lower total UK barley area, production is estimated to be lower than in 2021 at 6.746Mt.

‘Plentiful wheat’ 

Taken as a whole, wheat supplies are said to be plentiful at the start of the 2022/23 season. This is due to an increased wheat carry-over stock from last season, higher imports over the year and a larger crop this harvest.

In terms of the quality of this year’s crop, early indications show strong specific weights, though proteins are reportedly lower. “As with every season, we will likely look to Germany and Canada to fulfil needs for high specification milling wheat,” says the outlook report.

This season overall, the UK is anticipated to be a net importer of wheat. With high temperatures and dry conditions also impacting on the wider northern hemisphere harvest, global wheat prices remain at historically elevated prices.

“This season, with a healthy supply of total wheat anticipated, the UK is likely to be trading nearer export parity during the first part of the season. However, as we move through the season, we are likely to move to trading at import parity.”

The domestic barley balance begins the season tighter, with rebounding demand from the brewing, malting and distilling sector (BMD). The AHDB says it expects demand for barley to remain strong for barley, with increased distilling capacity in Scotland.

Barley exports

The UK looks to remain a net exporter of barley for the 2022/23 season – although imports are currently forecast near 2021/22 levels to meet malting barley demand. There has been some downgrading of malting barley to feed, with ergot detected in some wheat and barley.

Barley exports are expected to remain strong this season – although perhaps not quite to the levels seen in 2018/19 or 2019/20. Considering a squeeze on the EU barley balance, the AHDB expects higher exports to the EU during 2022/23.

Oat exports are anticipated to be lower than last season with an increase in domestic demand, including from the Oatly processing plant opening in Peterborough. The oat area for harvest 2022 is down about 9% on last year, though yields look good in some areas.

For the latest cereal market reports,