Drilling winter barley© Tim Scrivener

The planted area of spring barley has risen by 9% this season, benefiting from the surge in spring cropping as growers look to manage blackgrass and replace oilseed rape in the rotation.

Its popularity saw the area down to the spring crop grow from 659,750ha in 2016 to 725,000ha in 2017, marking the third season in a row it has increased in area.

Oats have also benefited from the decline in the area of winter cropping, with the crop’s area up 14% on last year.

See also: Decline in oilseed rape area forecast to halt next season

Barley and oats increase

According to figures released by the AHDB Planting & Variety Survey, wheat dominates the arable landscape at 1.7m hectares, a greater area than the next three most common crops combined (see table).

Crop area

Crop

Area (ha) in 2017

Percentage change from 2016

GB wheat

1,760,000

-3%

GB spring barley

725,000

+9%

GB winter barley

428,000

-1%

England and Scotland oilseed rape

553,000

-4%

England and Scotland oats

151,000

+14%

Analysts say the rise in the spring barley area has been primarily driven by greater areas in the East Midlands, South East and eastern England.  

Exactly half of the spring-sown crop was made up of malting varieties with full approval from The Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD), which was a 3% increase on 2016.

Separate data from The Maltsters’ Association of Great Britain showed that just 14% of the total purchased malting barley grain from the 2016 crop was from winter malting varieties, with Venture being the most popular, with the remaining 86% coming from spring varieties.

See also: High-yielding Laureate gets approval for malting and brewing

Hybrid and conventional share OSR honours

The AHDB survey confirmed that the oilseed rape area was moving further north and west, with gains posted in both the West Midlands and North West England.

A variety survey revealed that the top variety from the AHDB Recommended List, Elgar from Elsoms, shared the top spot for most widely planted variety with Monsanto’s Extrovert.