Oilseed rape is drilled into a field© Tim Scrivener

The oilseed rape drilled area is expected to rise this summer after five years of declines helped by encouraging yields this harvest and the higher price of rapeseed.

Leading oilseed rape breeder Monsanto says the pace of seed orders is good this season, especially in areas not hit by cabbage stem flea beetle damage and drought last autumn.

“We are expecting to see an increase in the rapeseed area this year, especially in the West, North and south of the M4,” Monsanto’s marketing manager Deryn Gilbey told Farmers Weekly.

See also: Harvest 2017: The 5 top-yielding oilseed rape varieties

With neonicotinoid insecticide seed dressings banned due to their perceived damage to bees, some rapeseed crops in south eastern England such as Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire were damaged by flea beetles last autumn, while drought in Essex forced many crops to be ripped up.

Monsanto, with varieties Extrovert and Exalte, has about a 25% share of the certified seed market for oilseed rape, and is looking for the overall area of the crop to rise from the 550,000-560,000ha being harvested this summer after five years of declines from just over 700,000ha at harvest 2012.