THE NFU EXPECTS this year‘s wheat harvest to be 15.8 million tonnes and the barley harvest 6m tonnes.

The union reports that having lost most of August because of abnormal weather conditions, farmers worked night and day to bring in the harvest.

It estimates the average wheat yield in England was 7.9t/ha (3.1t/acre), but said this year is exceptional in producing a wide array of regional results.

These range from 8.4/t/ha (3.3t/acre) in the West Midlands to 7t/ha (2.8t/acre) in the North West.

Regional output was affected in those areas where the weather was at its worst.

In Wales, the average yield was estimated at 8.07t/ha (3.2t/acre) and in Scotland, 8.64t/ha (3.4t/acre).

The NFU points out Britain‘s farmers have fared much worse than their continental cousins who enjoyed better harvesting conditions and have reported good quality.

This in itself will produce major challenges for the UK as it competes for export markets, both within Europe and further afield.

Production in Central and Eastern Europe, including countries such as Russia and the Ukraine, is believed to be considerably up on last year‘s figures. 

NFU Vice President, Meurig Raymond, praised the tenacity of the industry in salvaging what for some was a difficult harvest.

“It will be essential for all of us in the chain to work closely together to secure the optimum markets for our crops at a time of great change and pressure.”

The NFU‘s harvest estimates also include barley and oilseed rape production figures and trends.

They show a swing again this year away from the production of winter barley (down 6.6%) and a reduction in spring-sown barley (down 8.74%).

Barley average yields were 6.52t/ha (2.6t/acre) across the UK and 5.6t/ha (2.2t/acre) respectively for winter and spring barley.

Oilseed rape production was down marginally by 1.36% according to the report, even though the planted area was up by 5.5%.