European wheat harvest approaches judgment day

images (5) The wheat market is approaching judgment day over a European harvest which, while set to beat gloomy quantity estimates made during the spring drought, is raising increasing concerns over quality.

Fears for the milling credentials of Europe’s production have been felt even in the US, contributing to a reinflation of premiums of harder wheat contracts over Chicago’s soft wheat equivalents, Erin FitzPatrick at Rabobank said.

"You have seen Kansas wheat come back a little bit over the last week or two, while the premium of Minneapolis wheat has stabilised at about $1.50 a bushel," Ms FitzPatrick told

"Right now, as far as quality concerns go, we are looking at Europe at the moment."

Deteriorating prospects

The jitters have centred over rain which has slowed harvest in particular in central Europe – with accompanying risk for quality. Harvest-time rains encourage the sprouting process, which comes at the expense of protein and starch levels.

Officials in both the Czech Republic, a small farming nation, and Poland, the Europe Union’s third-ranked grains producer, have this week cut harvest hopes, with some concerns in surrounding countries too.

"We are hearing good reports in Hungary around Budapest, but the quality is dreadful up north," Jaime Nolan at FCStone’s Dublin office said.

Further west in Spain, where harvest is in its latter stages, test weights were coming in "slightly low", with some concerns over other metrics too – a key consideration for market prices given the country’s status as a significant wheat importer.

‘A bit Dicey Riley’

However, the deciding factor is likely to be the result of the harvest from the big-three wheat producers – France and Germany, where harvest is still underway, and the UK, where it is in its early stages.

Germany, in particular, has also been hit by late rains. "It’s a bit Dicey Riley as far as France and Germany go at the moment," Mr Nolan said.

"But we are in a waiting game. Weather is looking a bit drier in France and Germany, which should allow harvest to get on a bit."

‘Wait and see’

In the UK, David Eudall, analyst at the Home Grown Cereals Authority, also said it was a "wait and see" market.

"Farmers do not want to sell because they do not know what they have got. Buyers do not want to buy until they have a clearer view of the situation too," Mr Eudall said.

"If rains stick around for another two or three weeks, that would certainly start to affect the quality."

* Mr Eudall added that in the UK, early results from the rapeseed harvest looks "good", with those from barley, "variable, much as expected".

Further details on the UK harvest will be released by the HGCA on Thursday.—3406.html

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