Variable and difficult weather has slowed the rapeseed harvest and kept UK farmers away from the market in recent weeks.

“It’s relatively quiet in farmer selling terms,” David Whyte, trader at United Oilseeds, told Agritrade News. “They’re bogged down with the harvest dragging on.”

At the same time, demand from UK crushers is limited. “One of them is still not crushing,” Mr Whyte advised. ADM’s plant at Erith is not operating after the fire there in June.

“There are a few imports which are stalling values a little bit,” he continued. The bad weather in recent days could have an effect by delaying some of the vessels.

“There’s little interest in buying forward,” Mr Whyte noted, with buyers expecting to be able to buy at current levels later in the season. “The upside in the market is probably import parity,” he explained. However, that level varies from day-to-day on a range of factors from changing production estimates to currency values.

“Allegedly, a bit of Canadian canola is potentially going to come into Europe,” Mr Whyte said. “It will also be interesting to see where the Australian tonnage goes.” He highlighted Chinese demand for rape oil, at a time when “the EU is needing to buy an awful lot of rapeseed.”

The EU grain trade organisation Coceral issued new rapeseed production estimates on Monday August 24th, revising its forecast for the EU27 plus UK up to 17.0 million tonnes, from its June figure of 16.5m tonnes. “Actual yields in Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries were better than previously expected, it reported – the 2019 EU rapeseed harvest produced 16.9m tonnes.

Coceral has marked the 2020 UK rapeseed crop down to 1.07m tonnes, compared with the 1.67m tonnes in 2019. This is a combination of a smaller area – 521,000 hectares from the 356,000 in 2019; and lower yields – 3.0 tonnes/ha from 3.2 tonnes/ha a year ago.

In contrast, Germany’s rapeseed crop is forecast sharply up, at 3.41m tonnes, compared with 2.85m tonnes in 2019, with the area rising to 960,000 hectares (862,000ha) and yield up to 3.55t/ha from 3.3t/ha. Germany’s farmers’ union, the Bauernverband, published its own estimates on 18 August, putting the crop at 3.3m tonnes, up from its figure of 2.8m tonnes for 2019. It pointed out, however, that the long-term average is 4.1m tonnes. The Bauernverband complained that a lack of chemistry to deal with pests and diseases in rapeseed was causing a long-term decline.

France’s rapeseed crop is put at 3.33m tonnes, down from 3.50m tonnes in 2019. The area was little changed – 1.12m hectares versus 1.11m ha, but yield fell to 2.97 tonnes/ha hectare from 3.16 tonnes/ha last year. France Agri Mer, the country’s equivalent of AHDB, also like the German union, noted the lack of chemistry, but largely blamed the combination of a wet winter and a dry spring for poor performance in some regions.