Whatever the weather does over the next few weeks, 2012 is going to produce a difficult harvest. A combination of very wet soil conditions, late maturing crops and some uneven ripening are going to lead to long working hours, reliance on driers, and dust.
In Lycetts’ experience, these three factors combine to produce a greatly increased risk of fire. It is vital that maintenance of combines and driers is kept up to scratch, especially the removal of accumulations of dusty debris and oily waste.
Should the worst happen, clients will have chosen to insure growing crops and crops in store either under the material damage section or the business interruption section of their farm policy. The cover given under the two sections is different and if you do not understand the difference you should discuss the consequences with your normal Lycetts contact, who will be able to explain the differences in cover and the premium costs of the two alternatives.
You should note that agricultural motor fleet policies do not cover the cost of hiring replacement vehicles. If you want to be insured for the cost of hiring a replacement combine or tractor following a fire loss, you must have a business interruption section to your policy.
Whichever basis of cover is used, it is important to maintain your sums insured at a realistic level. Various factors conspire to make this extremely difficult this year. Worldwide yield estimates are being cut by the various local authorities, including Russia/Ukraine and the Black Sea area (too wet), US corn, soya and wheat estimates are all down (too dry) and new crop Argentine wheat plantings are down by 22% (too cold).
In the UK, the wheat cropped area is at its highest level since 2008 but in common with the whole of northern Europe, there are increasing questions over both quality and yield. A combination of fusarium, rusts and septoria has resulted in a reduction of estimated UK wheat yield of 1m tonnes to 15m tonnes. There are increasing weather risks to a fast-ripening oilseed rape crop.
As a result, September prices are all sharply up, for feed wheat at about £180/t, barley a few pounds less, and oilseed rape about £380. Providing, of course, that you have a crop of saleable quality!
Finally, for straw producers and the small minority who have baled any hay, remember that prices will again be driven by scarcity.
For further information and advice please contact Charles Foster on 01328 857 920 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.