Survey finds lowest cereals and OSR area in over 20 years

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AHDB’s latest Planting and Variety Survey shows a dramatic decline in cereals and oilseed rape planted in the UK.

Conducted from mid-April to mid-June 2024, levels have decreased by 5% this year, the lowest for over two decades.

Rises in barley (6%) and oats (9%) areas are more than offset by the decline in wheat and OSR areas, which are 9% and 21% respectively.

See also: Oilseed prices rise further as grain prices hold

According to the Met Office, UK rainfall from September 2023-May 2024 was the greatest recorded since 1836, at 1,157 mm. It was 25% above the five-year average from 2018/19-2022/23.

AHDB Analyst Matt Darragh said: “This [rainfall]considerably limited the opportunity farmers had to undertake winter and spring planting. What’s more, it has meant unfavourable growing conditions for the crops that were planted, with sunshine hours the lowest since 1995-96.”

“The falls in winter cropping and rises in spring cropping are less severe than AHDB’s Early Bird Survey indicated back in early March. However, this likely reflects the wetter than usual conditions continuing through the spring.”

Some winter crops, which were in poor condition and targeted to be replaced with spring options, may have been kept because the weather offered limited windows to sow spring crops.

“Overall, the reduced area and poorer crop conditions, especially for winter crops, points to lower cereals and OSR production in 2024.”

While some regions were more impacted than others, most saw cropping declines. But in Northern Ireland, the total wheat and barley area went up by 2% on the year and 6% over the five-year average.

Other key findings of the survey found that in the UK, the total wheat area is estimated to be 1,560 Kha, down 9% on the year, while total barley area is up 6%, at 1,207 Kha.

The spring barley area rose by a considerable 18% to an estimated 804 Kha, while winter barley fell 12% to 402 Kha. The oats area was estimated at 180 Kha, a 9% increase from last year,

For Great Britain, the OSR area was seen to decline 21% to 307 Kha, and total cereal area fell by 3% to 2,916 Kha, the lowest area since 2007.

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