IT has been a little more than four weeks since my last column and it has been an extremely volatile time for the grain markets.

Feed wheat for spot collection has valued anywhere between £125.00 - £140.00/T throughout the month of November (and early December) and current prices can be negotiated somewhere between the two for movement into the New Year (unless anybody could load a lorry Christmas Eve?!)

Fluctuations to currency are predominantly responsible for the recent volatility; the weakening of the pound against the Euro and the subsequent weakening of the Euro against the Dollar has driven local ex-farm values in the UK as we become more competitively priced for export.

Although the recent weakening of the Russian currency, the Rouble, due to the on-going political issues there has put Black Sea Shipments back in the lead for foreign importers. However, concerns regarding the possibility of an imposed grain export ban by the Russian Government are limiting trade volumes; it may be cheap but a European alternative may be a safer bet at this stage.

Looking ahead, next year’s crop which is now firmly in the ground both here in the UK and across wider Europe is said to have established well. A mild and averagely wet autumn has certainly been beneficial here in North Yorkshire and both wheat and barley crops look very good.

Over in the US cold temperatures are causing concern for the late established winter wheat crops there although last week’s arrival of heavy snowfall should provide some short term cover.

For those of you looking to make a start on marketing next year’s crop, current values for wheat are trading in the region of £135/T ex-farm for as-available collection at harvest.

As we head into the New Year, the direction of UK grain values is hugely uncertain. Whilst physical supply remains plentiful, other pressures such as weather, wider economics and politics cloud the outlook.

Key questions surrounding the impending southern hemisphere harvests, Russian politics and the developing winter crops which are now firmly in the ground across the northern hemisphere will have a large part to play over the coming months and predicting their outcome is near impossible. I think these grain markets will require some close monitoring in early 2015.