James Mortimer


Newsletter – 29th June 2018

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Once again the weather is the main topic of conversation. Many of you told me that we would have a long dry spell after the poor weather of autumn 2017 and Spring 2018.

Markets seem to have moved forwards this afternoon as yield predictions are lowered within Europe.

The seed market has come to life during the week, and many of you will have been looking at trials over the past couple of weeks and making cropping decisions. We have tried to encourage early ordering, especially for the newer varieties with limited availability.


Wheat from harvest 2017 is under pressure; at the same time new crop prices are lifting today.

As I write the newsletter, Wheat Futures are trading at the following levels:

£146.80 (July 18), £163.25 (Nov 18), £163.25 (Jan 19), £165.00 (Mar 19), £169.25 (May 19), £159.00 (Nov 19)


The feed barley market is very quiet. Harvest prices will start somewhere in the region of £136 per tonne ex farm.

It will be interesting to see the gap between barley and wheat once the market gets underway.


As harvest approaches, we wait to see how the 2018/19 season develops. We are offering contracts for both winter and spring varieties.

We promoted CRAFT winter barley last autumn, and told a considerable tonnage of seed. Craft appears to be an improvement on SY Venture.

There is a national shortage of Craft seed and anyone who intends growing the variety this autumn should act quickly to ensure supply.


We have traded a few loads of feed/milling oats during the past weeks. Please keep in touch for up to date information on contract opportunities for harvest 2019.


Oilseed rape prices have firmed a little over the week. As an indication, our daily ex farm prices for 29/6/18 were as follows:

August £295
Sept     £300
Oct       £302
Nov      £304
Dec      £305

We will have several storage/drying options for harvest 2018.


Group 1 varieties:
Skyfall continues to prove a popular choice; Orange Wheat Blossom Midge resistance is a unique attribute within this sector.

Crusoe continues to deliver quality samples, simply the best variety for natuarlly high protein.

KWS Zyatt – looks a good choice for yield, agronomic characteristics.
A good variety for later drilling and the  second wheat slot.

Group 2 –
KWS Siskin – high yielding variety,widely grown as feed. Possible premium.
KWS Lili – as Siskin, inferior untreated yields. Still popular with some of our growers.

Group 3 soft
Elicit – nothing not to like about this very popular variety.High untreated / treated yields.
OWBM resistant.

Group 4 soft
KWS Jackal – may be of interest to growers looking for a change from Leeds.

Elation – the same parentage as Elicit, admittedly with inferior Septoria resistance.
We believe this variety will prove popular in autumn 2018.

We mentioned Gleam wheat several months ago, and we are close to selling out our own crop.
There are a number of group 4 hard wheat varieties which offer excellent yield and agronomic characteristics:
RGT Gravity

We liked the high untreated yield of Gleam, 5% higher than the closest rival. The treated yield is up there with RGT Gravity, another strong contender.

Oilseed rape – large selection available.

Hybrid barley

Stubble Turnips / Mustard in stock.

Newsletter – 17th June 2018

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After a  4 mile walk on Fraisthorpe beach with my younger daughter, future son-in-law and very happy 4 year-old Spaniel, I have had an extremely enjoyable Fathers Day.

The lawn has been cut, and we had a very pleasant roast beef lunch at The Wolds Inn, Huggate.

I expect quite a few of you made the pilgrimage to Cereals this year, but for the 3rd year in a row I did not attend. It is a fact I am not particularly proud of, but we basically have a lot going on and my time was better spent in Driffield.

We have seen a number of seed orders during the course of the week, and expect the pace will increase even more as we approach July.

Grain markets have seen a bit of a downturn during the past few days, but prices are still at decent levels.



As I write the report the LIFFE Wheat Futures prices are as follows:-
£150.10     July 18
£157.75     Nov 18
£160.10     Jan 19
£162.45     Mar 19
£163.95     May 19
£161.55     July 19
£156.60     Nov 19

Ex farm prices have drifted a little lower for both 2018/19 crop feed wheat.

Lots of issues are keeping the wheat market interesting; Weather, politics, currency movements and the state of crops in key wheat growing countries. The talk of President Trump imposing Tariffs on China and the repercussions that will have add further spice to the mix.

It is fair to say that there is a feeling that harvest 2018 in the UK may only be average, with thin crops and a difficult growing season. That said, the Wolds have improved dramatically over the past weeks.

Please keep in touch with the office for up to date price information on feed/biscuit/milling wheat.



A relatively quiet market for both old and new crop feed barley, with very few new offers are coming to the market.

We wait to see how close to wheat that feed barley will trade once harvest 2018 gets underway.



A very quiet market. Maltsters will be anxious to see how the winter and spring crops develop in the weeks ahead. The spring crops would benefit from some regular gentle rainfall.



We wait to see the direction of the oat market.

On a positive note the firm feed barley and wheat markets coupled with reduced plantings in both the UK and Scandinavia should lead to a reasonably good market during the 2018/19 season.



We are continuing to trade a few loads of oilseed rape from Harvest 2018. Prices have edged lower for both 2018/19 crop.

Although there are weather issues regarding both OSR and Soya crops the market is fairly static at present. The US crop is approaching a key stage in its growth, and forecasts of wet, warm weather have resulted in a lower Soya bean futures price.

Please keep in touch with the office for regular price updates.

We can offer various options for drying storage and drying for Harvest 2018.



The bean market looks a little firmer for Harvest 2018. Please keep in touch with the office for regular updates on the feed an human consumption markets.



Please contact us for all your autumn seed requirements.

We welcome the opportunity to quote for:
Oilseed Rape – including Clearfield varieties – (COMPARE OUR PRICES BEFORE BUYING)
Barley – malting and feed varieties
Wheat – feed / milling / biscuit – our largest ever selection
Beans – locally grown “Tundra” winter beans
Mustard / soil improvement mixtures / stubble turnips




The 2018 campaign finally started.

Prices for AN and AN + Sulphur / Granular Urea etc have taken most people by surprise. In a nutshell, they are considerably higher than we envisaged a few months ago. High energy prices, firm European fertiliser prices and a generally buoyant commodities market have no doubt all played their part.

Please keep in touch for all your requirements, including Yara, CF, Lithan, Pulan, AN + Sulphur, Urea, grades and a full range of blends and compounds.


Newsletter – 11th May 2018

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It has been a few weeks since our last Newsletter, and the weather has finally allowed progress on the land after what has been a very difficult few months.

Grain prices have edged higher in recent weeks, and 2018 harvest offers an opportunity to lock into some respectable prices.

Some of you may have seen that Dee & Atkinson had an auction today.

One of the lots was an Edwardian Silver Salver, presented to James Mortimer by the East Yorkshire regiment in 1904. The Salver was a wedding present from “past and present members” of the 2nd Voluntary Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment.

James Mortimer (son of J.R. Mortimer, founder of our company), married Dora Woodcock, a Driffield girl, on June 7th 1904. He enlisted as a private in 1888, rising through the ranks to become a captain who lead a company of Driffield men in 1900 during the Boer War.

In 1915 he was promoted to Commander of the 5th Yorkshire Regiment as Lt. Colonel. He was killed on September 15th 1916 in France, and his brother in law Captain Frank Woodcock died on the same day .

The September battle of the Somme is remembered as the introduction of the tank being used in action. There were an estimated 1 million casualties, on both sides during the July-September battle.

I went along to the saleroom this morning to make a bid on what was a very interesting piece of history. Sadly and admittedly, not for the first time this week I was outbid.

The Salver made £700, well above the guide and our offer. At least we have gained some interesting knowledge about a very brave man. We have two photographs of James Mortimer in the office, one during the Boer War, the other as a player in the Driffield 1st  X1 cricket team.



The wheat market has gained ground over the past few weeks. The LIFFE Wheat Futures market closed tonight (11/5/18), as follows:

May 18 – £146.90
Jul   18 – £147.65
Nov 18 – £151.95
Jan  19 – £154.20
Mar  19 -£156.45
May 19 – £158.00
Nov 19  -£150.30

The wheat market remains firm for both 2017 and 2018 harvests.

Please keep in touch with the office for up to date information on feed, biscuit and milling wheat markets.



Feed barley prices have remained firm in recent months, at one stage trading at parity, or very close to feed wheat. We are able to offer small quantities of barley for anyone needing it for on farm use.

The market for new crop barley is firm, and anyone needing to move tonnage during harvest would be well advised to consider selling some tonnage at the levels currently on offer.



The 2017/18 malting market has practically finished. Buyers will be keeping a close eye on weather conditions in the months ahead.

After a very long winter, most spring barley crops are now emerging and time will tell how they will perform. You would expect yields to be lower than in recent years.

As with other commodities please keep in touch with the office for up to date market information.



The oat market is quiet at present, with buyers appearing to be fairly well covered for the remainder of this season.

We wait to see the planted acreage for spring 2018 for some guidance on the likely direction of prices in 2018/19.



Oilseed rape values are remaining under pressure and there are still considerable on farm stocks and realistically only a few weeks before the local crush undertakes the annual clean down for harvest 2018.

The price difference between 2017 and 2018 is under £5 per tonne, and it looks likely that some growers will opt to carry over tonnage into the next marketing season.

All the usual weather and currency issues will no doubt keep us guessing during the weeks and months ahead.



We continue to trade feed beans from harvest 2017.

Please keep in touch with the office for up to date information on both feed and human consumption bean markets.



We are beginning to see some interest in several of the new wheat varieties on offer in 2018.

Our spring sales have finally drawn to a close, and despite the difficult conditions in the field, our sales have risen by 50% compared to last year.

Lucy has been working on our autumn 2018 seed catalogue, we hope to circulate it within the next week or two. Please take time to study the choice of varieties and seed treatments etc.

As many of you will be aware, Autumn 2018 will be the last year that Deter and Redigo Deter will be available, which is another big loss to our industry.



We continue to take spot orders for various grades of fertiliser, including Lithan and UK Nitrogen.

Please give us the opportunity to quote for all your requirements.



Boost Spring Barley Yields Through Improved Tillering

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Spring barley varieties that have a better tillering ability could be linked to higher yields helping to explain why many of the newer varieties are offering such increases in yield claims leading plant breeders Limagrain UK. This is based on agronomy trials carried out by the breeder that have focussed on monitoring the tillering capacity of spring barley lines over many years.

“It is quite evident that many of the newer varieties appear to be producing higher tiller counts,” says Limagrain’s arable technical manager, Ron Granger.

“The key to upping spring barley yields is achieving high final head counts and choosing a variety with a greater tillering ability.”

Over the last three years of Limagrain trials it is clear to see that newer higher yielding varieties show a corresponding rise in tiller number. First on the Recommended List in 2009, Concerto has a lower tillering ability than newer varieties such as Sienna, which was first listed in 2015. This is a trend that has been seen over three years of Limagrain trials.

“It is a significant contributory factor in the 10% increase in yield seen from the top varieties added to the AHDB Recommended List over the last 10 years.

Varieties such as Concerto can still achieve high yields if the final target tiller count of about 775m2 is met, but a cultivar that initially produces more tillers will compensate better for tiller loss in stressful conditions, helping crops reach their full potential in most years.

“Looking at tiller counts versus yield from trials, our analysis would suggest that higher tiller counts are increasing yield potential; for full yield potential, we should be aiming at a final tiller count of 775 – 800 /m² in line with the AHDB Barley growth guide recommendations.”

“Spring barley varieties with higher tiller counts are desirable, as in challenging periods during the spring, these varieties are able to lose tillers without a significant yield penalty whereas low tillering varieties will struggle to compensate when the environment is not favourable, due to a loss of tillers.”

As newer spring barley varieties generally have stronger tillering ability, careful attention should be paid to seed rates to optimise plant populations and hit target head numbers, he notes.

When considering seed rate in relation to tillering, our trials comparing variety seed rates over various seasons and regions suggest that with the more vigorous, higher tillering varieties, the optimum seed rate is 350 seeds/m2 when drilling in ideal conditions around mid-March, adds Mr Granger.

“This figure can be adjusted up or down depending on weather, drilling date, seed-bed quality, moisture availability and perhaps most importantly, the grower’s own experience on each site.”

“A lower rate of 300-325 seeds/m2 could suffice if drilling into an “onion bed” in March, but where forced to drill into April due to weather or agronomic reasons, pushing up to 400 seeds/m2 may be more appropriate.”

Maintain tiller numbers

Balanced crop nutrition plays an important role in tiller survival and in the past, growers have been reluctant to increase nitrogen application rates in spring malting barley crops through fear of exceeding maltsters’ grain nitrogen limits.

“However, the latest Recommended List varieties produce more tillers and higher yields, so in some situations additional nitrogen is required to maintain tiller numbers and maximise crop potential,” says Mr Granger.

In our own trials, we have seen a benefit of upping nitrogen rates from a standard seed bed application of 120kg/ha to 150kg/ha, with the additional 30kg/ha applied at tillering.

“This was previously considered a risk to malting quality, but due to higher yields diluting the additional nitrogen taken up by the plants, this can be done without exceeding grain N percentage limits for malt distilling of 1.65%.”

Limagrain trials have also shown that additional nitrogen can certainly be beneficial to maximise yield potential in poorly established or lower tillering crops.

“In addition to nitrogen, phosphate and phosphite will promote rooting and micronutrients such as manganese will help keep plants healthy, all reducing the risk of tiller loss through the spring,” says Mr Granger.

He points out that further work is required on the relationship between fertiliser applications, grain N and possible defects such as skinning and screenings. As a result, Limagrain is a partner in the new AHDB project, “Updating nitrogen and sulphur recommendations in spring barley”.

This article originally appeared http://www.lgseeds.co.uk/news/boost-spring-barley-yields-through-improved-tillering/