The 2020 AHDB Planting and Variety Survey has revealed a large swing to spring cropping due to poor autumn conditions. Charlotte Cunningham reports.

Wheat plantings have dropped 25% from 2019 to 1.363 million ha in Great Britain, with much of this replaced by spring barley or oats.

Although there will be a plentiful supply of barley, for wheat there are concerns about both the lower planted area and the quality of the crop, as dry conditions in spring have not aided crop development, according to AHDB.

OSR area has drastically reduced, continuing last year’s downwards trajectory, it added.

Many growers this year have withdrawn the crop from rotation, with the wet autumn severely affecting both the ability to drill and crop establishment. This, combined with ongoing pest pressure, has meant the 2020 harvest area for OSR is the lowest recorded in England since 2002.

“The UK grower has faced many challenges this season, with a very wet autumn, followed by an extremely dry spring,” says Anthony Speight, AHDB analyst. “However, it’s critical to note going into the next marketing season that although we’re going into a wheat deficit, our prices will be capped by the market as we reach import parity.

“Furthermore, barley export markets beyond Europe may be our only option after December, depending on the progress of Brexit negotiations.”

Paul Temple, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Board Chair, adds: “For most growers this has been a season they would rather forget. As they start planning for the first crops post Brexit, two things will be important, the market they choose to target & varieties that offer agronomic resilience.”

The key findings of the survey are:

  • GB wheat area is estimated at 1.363 million ha, a 25% decrease from 2019.
  • GB spring barley area is estimated at 1.063 million ha, up 52% from 2019.
  • GB winter barley area is estimated at 296,000 ha, a 34% decrease from 2019.
  • Area of OSR in England and Scotland is estimated at 387,000 ha, down 26% from 2019.
  • Area of oats in England and Scotland is estimated at 211,000 ha, a 21% increase from 2019.
  • Skyfall is the most popular wheat variety, with 10% of area
  • RGT-Planet is the most popular barley variety, accounting for 28% of total area.

The full AHDB Planting and Variety Survey results are available to download on the AHDB Survey Results page.