Important updates and advice regarding coronavirus (Covid-19)

Frontrunner- 30th July 2021

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Wheat long-holders in many areas can still achieve attractive premiums for old crop wheat as the market scrambles to find stocks to service late-season demand. In Scotland and the North of England particularly, wheat prices that are £30-40/t above harvest levels should encourage most sheds to be emptied as the country enters a new crop year with bare boards and minimal carryover. As wheat harvest started in the south this week, most merchants and consumers will breathe a sigh of relief as we come to the end of one of the smallest UK crop years in recent history.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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Getting direction from your maps

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​As we head into another harvest, it's important to get your bearings and plan your route ahead for the next and following cropping years. The concept of 'mapping your future' isn't new to everyone, but it has grown in significance following recent announcements about the Environment Land Management (ELM) scheme and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). In fact, specific 'standards' or 'land management actions' have been highlighted as a key part of the SFI and monitoring activity and results is central to the scheme.

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Basic to broad analysis: Putting everything under the microscope to push for better yield

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"We're on a journey". That's what I say to my crop production customers when they see me take yet another set of tissue samples from the same fields that we started tissue testing over five years ago.

Over the years, I've formed a true partnership approach with my customers when it comes to crop nutrition. In the early days, soil analysis consisted of only measuring the most basic components: pH, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. In addition, tissue analysis was taken sporadically here and there throughout the season.

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Frontrunner - 23rd July 2021

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Persistent hot and dry weather continues to damage spring wheat crops in the northern US states, particularly North Dakota and Minnesota. Weekly crop condition ratings slipped to 11% rated 'good to excellent', which is just one point above the worst condition rating on record in 1988. The area rated 'poor to very poor' increased on the week to 63% from 55% and this data propelled US spring wheat futures to new contract highs - their highest level since November 2012.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by farm trader, Sophie Powell.

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Frontrunner - 16th July 2021

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US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures rallied sharply this week, gaining 10% in value from last week's three-month lows.

Persistent hot and dry weather conditions across US and Canadian spring wheat production areas look set to continue into next week and will prove further damaging for yield potential. Minneapolis spring wheat futures rose above $9/bu which is their highest since December 2012. The fast rise in spring wheat futures prices has significantly extended its premium to CBOT soft red winter (SRW) wheat futures above $2.20. In early April it was little more than 30 cents.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by farm trader, Lucinda Redgate. 

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Preparing oilseed rape for harvest

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Harvest is just around the corner for oilseed rape and there are some final but important tasks required now that the crop has reached this point in its life cycle. Across the country, many oilseed rape crops have been looking well but this means that careful consideration is required when planning desiccation and necessary steps should be taken to safeguard crop potential.

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A role for catch and cover crops in soil management?

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In the second blog of this soil management series, we review how catch and cover crops can play an integral role in post-harvest soil management, including the options available and how their inclusion can support stewardship. The first blog in this series focussed on pre-harvest soil management and you can read it here.

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Develop your soil management plan pre-harvest

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​In the first blog of this soil management series, we're exploring why it's vital to start planning for soil management in autumn-drilled crops well in advance of planting; when the previous crop is still in the ground.

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Frontrunner - 9th July 2021

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Wheat markets have stepped lower this week again, strongly influenced by the fortunes for US corn. Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) markets were closed on Monday for Independence Day but most of last week's sharp price rally was lost on Tuesday following the long US weekend. CBOT corn opened 40 cents down but losses over the week amounted to 10% as US weather changed to cooler and wetter conditions. This was deemed ideal for developing corn plants as they head towards their pollination period.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by farm trader, Sophie Cath. 

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Frontrunner - 2nd July 2021

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In recent weeks, analysts have been increasing their wheat production estimates for major exporters Russia, Ukraine and the EU-27. This has left a negative tone and seen world prices continually ease during June. This change has been highlighted by London wheat futures which lost £14/t during the month. However, the primary negative price driver has been expectations for a notably higher 2021-22 US corn crop than previously anticipated.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast by pressing 'play' or downloading the track from within the report. The report this week is read by marketing assistant, Becca Russell. 

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Frontrunner - 25th June 2021

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Wheat futures have slipped lower this week. London November 2021 wheat futures closed below £170/t for the first time since mid-April. Grain markets have been pressured by wetter and cooler weather across the primary US corn producing states, which are conditions that are ideal for the pollination period and signal improved yield potential.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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Frontrunner - 18th June 2021

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Wheat prices have fallen sharply in recent days and London wheat futures have lost more than £10/t from their highs early last week. The fall has been driven by the US agriculture market, particularly by US corn, which has lost over 12% of its value this week.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by farm trader, Sophie Cath.

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Frontrunner - 11th June 2021

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The week began with markets on an upward trajectory. Weather is hot and dry in Northern USA, Canada and throughout Europe. Any rain we might see is likely to be confined to the Black Sea region. Despite the dryness, the EU wheat crop should achieve a good volume. However, it will not be an early harvest this season, which raises concerns over quality and, subsequently, prices are generally supported.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by Becca Russell. 

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Frontrunner - 4th June 2021

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Price volatility for the world's wheat markets continued this week. After initially making a sharp recovery following last week's slump, ultimately wheat markets failed to hold onto their gains. This was highlighted by London wheat futures, which increased by £8/t at their peak midweek before subsequently losing two-thirds of that rally.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by marketing assistant, Faye Lee.

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Frontrunner - 28th May 2021

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US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat and corn futures have been particularly volatile this week. Spring planting has advanced at a fast rate which has encouraged notable long liquidation from market speculators. Spring wheat planting reached 94% complete, which is well ahead of the 85% average for this time of year. Meanwhile, corn planting advanced to 90% complete compared with the 80% average.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report is read this week by key account manager, Zoe Andrew.

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The fourth major plant nutrient

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​The low levels of sulphur we see today are not a new problem. Rather, it is something we've been aware of for over 30 years; ever since the first sulphur-deficient oilseed rape crops were seen on very light soils. Over time, this deficiency has progressed and now impacts virtually all crops and soil types. By looking at the factors that influence sulphur availability, you can make informed decisions and opt for products that match your crops' sulphur demand. 

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Managing the volatility of the fertiliser markets: A look back at the fertiliser market in 2020

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The 2020-2021 growing season will be remembered by growers for many things: lockdown, online meetings, the unpredictable weather and volatility in both the grain and fertiliser markets.

The link between grain and fertiliser markets is a complex one. When grain prices are higher, it drives demand for fertiliser. In other words, food security creates demand. However, perhaps over this last year, it has been Covid-19 that has had the greatest impact of all on the high nitrogen values we've seen.

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Assessing the nitrogen requirements of milling wheat

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As my colleague, Edward Downing, explained in his blog about final nitrogen decisions for cereals, the wet autumn and winter has really thrown up some challenges.

After extensive rainfall early in the new year, we went into one of the coldest but driest spring seasons on record. Today though, I think we'd all agree that weather pattern has broken. May has, so far, been riddled with unsettled conditions – you might forgive some people for thinking we were actually in October.

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Frontrunner - 21st May 2021

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World wheat markets have fallen again this week as a result of the pressure of improving production potential for some of the world's primary exporters. Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat prices are now 10% below their end-of-April high and London wheat futures hit a low at £21.50/t beneath their recent peak.

You can also listen to the Frontrunner podcast - press play to hear the latest report. The report this week is read by farm trader, Sophie Cath.

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Final nitrogen decisions

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Since the rain has started to fall across the UK, I've had several people asking about the final nitrogen applications on a number of crops. Unsurprisingly, there's quite a lot to consider so we've put together a two-part blog series to help you address all of the key information.

In this first blog I've compiled some advice on final nitrogen decisions for the main arable crops, taking into account overall conditions we've seen this season and what they mean for final doses on oilseed rape, winter wheat and spring cereal crops.

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