USDA FAS forecast UK wheat to stay net-importer for 2021/22

As we all know, better planting progress for winter and spring cereals has laid the foundations for an increased UK grain production figure. But nearly a month without substantial rainfall across the UK has threatened crop health, with yields likely affected. Production figure forecasts from industry can create a ballpark figure on where the UK could be at next season. The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) released its analyst’s opinions on UK grain and oilseed production for 2021/22. Whilst this is not official stamped USDA data, it provides a necessary opinion.

The FAS has indicated a production figure of 14.75Mt, based on a planted area of 1.775Mha and an average yield of 8.3t/ha. This is slightly above initial estimates conducted by my colleague James but sits within this likely 14Mt-15Mt range. This figure is 7.5% above the five-year average and would sit close to 2017/18 levels. Whilst this would be 5Mt above 2020/21 figures, rising consumption figures anticipated for next season quickly evaporate this increased availability.
Barley production is expected at a large decline from the two previous seasons on account of better wheat drilling progress. The FAS forecast a figure of 7.2Mt, an 11.3% decline from this season. This is a 1.4% decline from the five-year average and is based on an area of 1.15Mha and an average yield of 6.3t/ha. A beginning stocks figure of 846Kt would be the lowest since 2008/09 if realised.
Our Early Bird Survey indicated a small increase to the UK oat area to a forecast 214Kha. The FAS forecast production at 1.08Mt which if realised would be the largest oat production figure this millennium and a third successive 1Mt+ oat crop. Forecast ending stocks at 132Kt would be the highest since 2017/18.
Oilseed rape
The FAS forecast rapeseed production to fall below 1Mt, expected to reach 995Kt next season. The FAS forecast a harvested area of 314Kha, down 17% from 2020/21. Our crop progress report highlights winter OSR crop in a much better condition, with 41% rated ‘good to excellent’ against 26% in March 2020.
What about crop conditions currently?
The better planting progress has provided some supply optimism for next season, with demand levels too expected to rebound. The UK will be a net-importer next season with new-crop global crop conditions a key watch point at the moment for price direction.

One concern at the moment is the lack of any substantial rainfall in the UK. Looking at rainfall amounts in April so far paints a dire picture with widespread areas receiving less than 20% of usual April averages. If we look at crop vegetation density levels which can be used as an indicator of overall crop health. NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) levels point towards a more average situation, in a better position than 2020. Our next UK crop progress report is due towards the end of May and will highlight the effects this dry period has had.

Read more on the USDA projections on the AHDB website

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Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...