Harvesting oilseed rape© Tim Scrivener

The oilseed rape crop is looking good coming into early flowering with the harvest predicted at about 2.2m tonnes, although the area grown is down.

The crop has established well and looks to be heading for good yields despite flea beetle damage and a dry spring, said Owen Cligg, trading manager at farming co-operative United Oilseeds.

“At this stage, the crop looks pretty good as rapeseed suffers less from drier conditions than many other crops,” he told Farmers Weekly.

See also: Backward oilseed rape crops suffer flea beetle larvae attacks

He puts the crop in the ground at 630,000ha, and with an average yield of 3.5t/ha forecasts a harvest of 2.2m tonnes compared with a 2014 crop of 2.46m tonnes from 675,000ha.

Yields could go up depending on the season and so the forecast harvest could start to move towards the level of the 2014 crop, Mr Cligg added.

A HGCA early-bird survey late last year put the crop area at a slightly higher 649,000ha, but even so the national area has fallen for three successive seasons.

The sharp fall in rapeseed prices and higher growing costs have seen the area go down from the record 756,000ha grown for harvest 2012.