FARMERS must take the most commercial attitude possible to grain marketing in order to maximise and protect returns, according to Cecilia Pryce, market analyst at British grain co-operative Openfield.

During a grain sector teleconference organised by Natwest, Ms Pryce said taking a practical attitude to marketing grain helped farmers to make those difficult choices.

She said: “With arable markets remaining depressed since the start of 2015, farmers are likely to have to make difficult decisions about selling their grain in the coming weeks.

“Sentiment and grain marketing are not a good mix,” she said. “Marketing your commodities is becoming a full-time job.

“Crops have no value until they are sold. It is important to have a clear plan of financial requirements and storage limits.

“Farmers should know variable costs of production and build a basic action plan based on this.

“Everyone should be able to see which crop is making better returns and know which crop to sell at harvest and which to store.

“Another thing some farmers forget is to look at forward prices. They should look at next May or November.

“Also, the prospects of better prices further forward may make it worthwhile for farmers to pay silo rent and it is also important for farmers to separate different qualities in order to maximise returns and avoid issues on delivery.

“A farmer should know his grain’s quality.

“Do not give away premiums by mixing quality.

“When grain moves from farm, consider that it is in everyone’s interests to never get a quality claim or a rejection.”

She said market opportunities came from a “good working relationship”.

“I urge farmers to make sure they are at the top of their merchants’ phone lists, to consider what contract terms they are trading on and how to maximise trading terms.”