U.K. Wheat Harvest Seen Smallest Since 2001 After Drop in Sowing

The U.K. wheat harvest, historically the European Union’s third-largest, may be the smallest this year since 2001 after winter-crop planting decreased, according to the government.

Farmers may gather 12.1 million metric tons of the grain, the country’s main arable crop, down 8.7 percent from 13.26 million tons last year, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said today in its first forecast for 2013 grain production. Barley output may jump 29 percent to 7.1 million tons, the biggest crop since 1997.

The U.K. saw its second-wettest year on record in 2012, according to the Met Office, slashing the quality of last year’s wheat and preventing farmers from planting winter grain and rapeseed crops that were harvested this year. Farmers instead boosted planting of spring crops including barley and oats after the weather turned dryer since the beginning of 2013, said Jack Watts, a senior analyst at the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board in Kenilworth, England.

“Last year we had a small crop with poor quality,” Watts said Oct. 11 in an interview at the European Commodities Exchange in Paris. “This year it’s still a small crop, but the quality is much improved. Normally we have some of the cheapest feed wheat in Europe, but this year we may be one of the most expensive.”

U.S. Drought

Feed-wheat futures on NYSE Liffe in London climbed to a record last year amid rallies in crop prices worldwide following drought in the U.S., the world’s biggest corn grower and exporter. Feed wheat for November delivery traded at 162 pounds ($258) a ton today, up 8 percent from a low on Sept. 18.

Defra said it will release estimates of wheat and barley yields and crop area, as well as figures for other grains and rapeseed, on Oct. 17. France and Germany are the EU’s two biggest wheat producers.

Wheat use by millers in the U.K. totaled 497,000 tons in August, up 4 percent from a year earlier, Defra said in a separate report today. Brewers, malt makers and distillers used 60,000 tons of the grain during the month and 152,000 tons of barley, for respective annual gains of 4 percent and 7 percent, according to the report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in London at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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