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1st Cut, Maize Planting & Feed Market Update

Given the apparent change in weather, we thought it would be sensible to provide our thoughts on 1st Cut and Maize planting.


1st CUT


There was some very welcome sunshine over the weekend, and whilst there is plenty of rain around again today, the longer-term forecast looks much improved, in terms of rainfall. However, there still seems to be plenty of cloud around in the next 10 days, so the prolonged spells of sunshine we need to really lift the sugars in the 1st cut don’t seem to be coming our way.


Ground conditions are still fairly wet, but should dry out relatively quickly over the next week or so. I wouldn’t be in any rush to get out there and take 1st cut this week – another week of even limited sunshine will improve the sugars and reduce the risk of soil contamination.


I appreciate some farms in a desperate situation with slurry stores and need to get slurry out urgently. If you are taking a cut of silage in the next week to allow you to get slurry out, I would strongly recommend a preservative type additive such as Safesil, especially where there is any concern of soil contamination.


Given the amount of poor quality forage around this year, I am sure everyone is very keen to ensure a high quality 1st cut is in the clamp! However, there is certainly a balance here this year and I would strongly recommend getting some of your own grass tested before pushing ahead with 1st cut. This will also provide a check for nitrate levels, which will be vital this year with late application of slurry and fertiliser on some farms. If you have any got the fertiliser on this week or last, it is important to remember the Nitrogen uptake will be around 2 units per day, so take this in to account when planning cutting dates, and make sure you get your grass tested.


We strong suggest getting some of your own grass tested before cutting – please contact us for some sample bags if you don’t have any.

MAIZE PLANTING


Given the extremely wet winter, it would seem very possible that a very dry summer is on the way. The Oak trees are out in leaf before the Ash… Oak before Ash, in for a splash. Ash before Oak, in for a soak. There is therefore an argument for getting maize in the ground early to ensure good germination. However, soil temperatures are still too low which will also impact germination. Hold off until soil temperatures are at least 12oc consistently for 3 days, and don’t plant before 20th April whilst there is still a risk of frost.

FEED MARKETS


Energies


Competitive black sea supplies of wheat have kept energy markets fairly subdued in recent weeks, despite a slight uplift seen from the lows back in February & March. The increases in price from the lows mentioned are a result of a tighter global balance to end the 2023-24 growing season, as well as very mixed global weather conditions which are likely to affect pricing for the new grain season. Maize markets are more likely to see price reductions in the coming months as good crop conditions and global stocks are forecast.


Proteins


Rapemeal is currently marketed at a premium compared to soya. This is partly due to lower global stocks of rapemeal, with market focus turning to Canadian plantings to gauge market direction. The issue of importing Soya into the UK from 1st Jan 2025 has also encouraged farmers to cover higher levels of rapemeal rather than soya.

Global soya stocks are well supplied from South America (although it is worth noting there is currently a lot of disagreement regarding year ending stocks) and attention will turn to US plantings and with a larger acreage expected, this is likely to further weigh on soya pricing.


Exchange rates have been largely flat from £/$. However, with both UK and US elections to come later this year, there is the potential for more volatility in currency markets which could influence raw material pricing.


Summary


Our advice is to cover everything for the Summer now, and cover at least 50% of the Winter.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries!

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