Combine harvester and tractor harvesting grain

Bullish outlook into 2023 - is it time to consider winter cereals?

It will come as no surprise the outlook for grain prices is good so we look at how best to capitalise on a tough global situation.

Prices are being supported by tight end season stocks for 2021 and 2022 amid predictions the 2022/23 supply will be restricted. This is due to the war in Ukraine and its effects on the Black Sea region, very dry conditions in the main growing areas of the US, other serious weather events and export restrictions around the globe.

Although there is the potential for a decrease in livestock demand due to a squeeze on margins, this will not be enough to offset predicted losses from global supply.

Set against a projected 1% increase and 4% decline in wheat and barley plantings respectively for 2022/23 season and with very little carryover from the 2021/22 season, the new season wheat and barley is going to be tight.

At the time of writing, feed wheat prices ex farm are approx. £276/tonne for November 2022. Due to limited supply, barley has been and will likely continue to track wheat prices very closely.

At these prices, cereal-based compound feed prices are predicted to remain high, so this an ideal time for farmers to be growing winter cereals this autumn for home consumption or to sell to end users like Mole Valley Farmers.

This may provide an opportunity for UK grain producers, with the potential for limited imports and competition from UK millers, feed mills and bio-ethanol plants.

Utilisation options for winter cereal crops on livestock farms


Fermented wholecrop, using an effective additive such as Ecocool, can provide a relatively high starch forage - approx. 20% - making it a good complement to grass silage. An earlier harvest than maize can make wholecrop appealing on some farms.

  • Harvested around four weeks before conventional harvest when dry matter content is 35-45% and can form a useful part of a mixed diet to increase dry matter intake
  • Provides an effective source of fibre, essential for maintaining a healthy rumen
  • The low protein content makes it an ideal balancer with grass silage
  • Very high dry matter yields in one cut (12-15 tonne/DM/ha) with a target ratio 50:50 between grain and straw, even in a dry or cold season


Grain crimping enables farmers to harvest, process, store and preserve grains when harvesting at higher moisture levels - 35-40% DM – to maximise their nutrient value and digestibility as animal feed.

  • Harvested around three weeks before a conventional harvest, then processed straight after harvest using crimping preservative through an applicator
  • Crimped cereals have a higher feed value, produce higher dry matter yields and are generally in a better condition than grains harvested at full maturity• More digestible and degradable feed compared with conventional dry rolled cereals
  • Greater rumen stability and the option to feed at higher rates to increase dry matter intakes

Conventional harvest

Growing winter cereals for conventional harvest has the added benefit of maximising both grain and straw yields.

  • Creates opportunities in how and when the end crop is used
  • Can be kept back as feed or sold to feed mills such as Mole Valley Farmers
  • Option to harvest early for wholecrop when there is a shortfall of grass and maize silage
  • Advantage of home-grown straw for bedding Prograin/Propcorn Grain Preservation Prograin or Propcorn NC (non-corrosive) preservatives provide a simple and cost-effective method of storing grain.
  • Inhibits the growth of moulds, yeasts and bacteria and prevents grains from heating up
  • Reduces the need for grain drying facilities • Suitable for most grains including wheat, barley oats, maize and pulses
  • Potential for increased milk yield and liveweight gain, very palatable feed
  • Increased energy - Prograin has an energy value of around 1.5 times that of barley

Maxammon Treated Grain

Maxammon treated grain improves rumen performance for higher milk solids and yield and improved feed conversion and increased DLWG.

  • Improved digestibility
  • Increases protein levels by 30%
  • More stable rumen pH - 8.5 to 9.3
  • Effective buffer feed
  • Treatment at harvest time or dried
  • Suitable for maize, wheat, barley, oats, wholecrop, straw and pulses

Winter Cereal Seed Varieties 2022

Look out for new high yielding barn filling feed wheat varieties Champion and KWS Dawsum, new to the 2022/23 Recommended List.

KWS Tardis winter barley is likely to lead the way, closely followed by KWS Hawking. Mascani winter oats will continue to dominate.