Survey shows winter cereal rebound

The AHDB/HGCA Winter Planting Survey shows a rebound in winter cropping in England and Wales for harvest 2014, compared with harvest 2013. A total of 2.976M ha was planted to wheat, winter barley, oats and oilseed rape by December 1, 2013 – 14% more than the total area of these crops harvested in 2013.

The increase in winter plantings was facilitated by favourable weather conditions during the autumn, a stark contrast to the conditions during the winter planting window for harvest 2013.

Wheat plantings by December 1 in England and Wales are estimated at 1.815 million ha. This represents an increase of 19% from the total area harvested in 2013, even before any late winter or spring wheat plantings.

Winter barley area as at December 1 is estimated to be 41% higher than was harvested in 2013 at 369,000ha. This area suggests the highest level of winter barley planting in England and Wales since 2003, though the total barley area will depend on spring planting levels.

AHDB senior analyst Helen Plant said the rebound in winter planting represents a return to more ‘normal’ cropping after the extremes of the past two seasons, which has been expected by the market.

“The higher wheat area increases the likelihood of the UK being able to return to being a net exporter of wheat in 2014/15,” she adedd. “However, weather conditions during the rest of the growing season will be important in determining the quality and yields, and thus the UK’s export potential next marketing season.

“The expectation of a larger wheat crop is reflected in new crop pricing, with the November 2014 UK feed wheat futures prices trading at an increased discount to the equivalent Paris milling futures contract. The wheat area is also expected to remain high across Europe and with limited crop issues so far, the UK may face strong competition in export markets.”

For winter barley, the area has also recovered considerably and is estimated at levels not seen for a number of years.

“It seems likely that winter barley plantings have benefited from farmers looking to widen the harvest window and spread the workload,” Ms Plant said. “In some areas, extending the rotation as well as supporting the establishment of subsequent oilseed rape crops, may also have been a motivation.”

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