DEFRA IS estimating that the UK cereal crop in 2004 will total 22.3 million tonnes – 4% higher than in 2003.

The department has published its first official estimates of the 2004 harvest.

It puts the UK wheat crop at 15.7m tonnes, the barley crop at 5.9m tonnes and the oats crop at 0.7m tonnes.

These figures are in line with industry expectations.

The estimates are based on a survey of farmers from about 2000 cereals holdings.

The department said that wet weather in August meant the harvest was brought in late in England, which led to a delay in collecting and publishing the data.

But it would publish final cereal production estimates in January 2005.

Average yields were 7.9t/Ha (3.1t/acre) for wheat, 5.8t/Ha (2.3t/acre) for barley and 6.0t/Ha (2.4t/acre) for oats.