It Never Rains but it Pours and Pours!! - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

David Neale Blog

February 4, 2013

It Never Rains but it Pours and Pours!!

A new year, a new set of challenges, which never seem to go away. Current weather, markets and quality all mean yet more VOLATILITY. Last year’s harvest challenges carry on with delayed and reduced drillings, soil compaction, water logging and still the impact from reduced yields and quality. Most realize the impact will take us to at least Harvest 2014 before we work things through! At Agrii we are here to help you when the going gets tough, we appreciate it is not always plain sailing so make use of our advice when it counts.

I would say from our 300 plus agronomists covering the whole of the UK that we have about 80% of Wheat drilled. Winter Barley and Oats are down in different regions with seed of all still in the shed. The impact of this is Spring Barley acreage is set to increase by 40%! Spring Rape is up dramatically, also Spring Wheat and other minor crops see an increase. Yes some heavy wet land with Blackgrass may well stay as fallow or certainly get a cover crop in to soak up the moisture and help with fertility. Make sure you are speaking with us about purchase of quality seed, our advice can help you work through the challenges being faced.

Silk Purse and Sows Ear!

With the wet weather this summer, half the sunshine and twice the rainfall challenges increase. Yield is down 15-20% on Wheat with low bushel weights and importantly impaired functionality (performance). Millers and Ensus are bringing in high quality grains to blend with our poorer quality. The outcome will mean we import about 2.5 million tonnes of Maize and Wheat and this could mean a small surplus of poor quality as we move through to harvest. Loaves are not making the right quality even with the right hagberg and protein. At lower bushel weights the ethanol (distilling process) is also impaired.

Value for Money

With world issues and currency continuing to dominate the UK market we still, thankfully, have strong prices both now and looking forward to 2013/14. Fund managers are still supportive of soft commodities for commercial, financial and political reasons. There is always a but (!!) just bear in mind the US Maize crop had a decent year last year. Additionally Wheat was not a disaster; it could easily have been £50 per tonne less.

Prices have been known to rise and fall in recent years by £100 per tonne, do not think it cannot and will not happen again! Oilseeds remain strong on the back of poor Soya yields and continued global demand, with China being the key driver. Since Christmas we have seen our OSR price recover the £30 per tonne losses and looking towards to 2013 it already looks firm.

Your Sentiments and Hens Teeth

I know with reduced plantings and stocks that you might sit back. My advice is ‘a little and often does you good’! Tell me why it is not right to protect your business by taking some percentage of 2013 and 2014 values; I believe it is right to do so. Malting premiums are now like Hens Teeth to find with our huge rise in acreage and elsewhere in Europe, my advice – grow for yield.

Invest in backward crops as every kilo of production is critical. Nurture and help backward OSR crops, utilise our unique R&D resource to help this process. I would expect limited growth in milling premiums and again would advise you to know your contracts and check the small print.

Catch up with us on the Road

Having done many meetings throughout November and December for the autumn season we are already busy with our spring events programme. Our event at Lincoln last Friday attracted 150 guests with a superb line up of top speakers, including Allan Wilkinson of HSBC and Meurig Raymond of the NFU.

Our Bishop Burton event takes place this Thursday 7th February,  come and hear our key speaker line up, view the latest machinery and chat with a whole host of technical and supplier stands.  Our key speaker line up this year is looking really exciting; we have The Right Honourable Jim Paice, former Minister of Agriculture and Alick Jones, Agricultural Director of Lloyds Bank in attendance. We also have Paul Pickford fresh from our farming projects in the Sudan and Ukraine. It will be well worth the trip, come and join us for some lunch and listen to the fantastic seminars on offer; plus a workshop on soil science from our sponsored Soil and Water Centre at Harper Adams.

The Younger Face of Agrii Hits Farmers Weekly and Crops!!

Two of our young agronomists Tom Goodman and Todd Jex are helping to drive our 15tonne, Best of British Wheat Project. This project is delivered at our Salisbury R&D site but is also making its way around the country with other young people from Agrii taking the challenge at regional sites around the UK.

The results of this project to date have proved that yes, we can do it despite less than easy weather conditions – we have no Rice plots yet!!!!!




Finally, Seed has Value

Did you see, last week, that record breaking Pumpkin in the US yielded some seeds. UK seed company Thompson and Morgan purchased a seed for a record £200! Rumour has it Mummy Pumpkin weighed in at nearly 1,000 kg! Sounds like a big Un!

You can email David your comments and opinions via

« Return to the Blog listings