The UK wheat harvest is expected to be up by almost a quarter next year.

HGCA’s Early Bird Survey of farmers’ planting intentions shows a sharp rise in plantings of wheat and barley for harvest 2014.

The total wheat area is expected to rise by 22% to 1.98m hectares, with winter barley set for the largest area in 10 years, increasing by 55% to 484,000ha.

Oilseed rape plantings are also predicted to see a slight increase of 3% to 740,000ha, the second highest level on record, behind 2012.

These increases are mostly due to poor weather during planting for the 2013 harvest, with farmers replacing failing winter crops with different crops or spring varieties.

HGCA lead analyst Jack Watts said: “The conditions in 2012-13 led many farmers to change their usual crop rotations, and some farmers will still be dealing with the consequences of this.”

“This autumn we’ve had good drilling conditions across the UK and, as a consequence, we are looking at a return to a more normal cropping mix for harvest 2014 following a large shift to spring cropping in 2013.”
Jack Watts, HGCA lead analyst

While better conditions this year are leading to a rise in the area of some crops, they also account for a dramatic fall in predicted plantings of other crops for the 2014 harvest.

The spring barley area is set to drop 40% to 534,000ha, and oats by 26%. However, a predicted 130,000t still represents a relatively large area of oats, according to HGCA.

“This autumn we’ve had good drilling conditions across the UK and, as a consequence, we are looking at a return to a more normal cropping mix for harvest 2014 following a large shift to spring cropping in 2013,” said Mr Watts.

“The return of a more normal UK wheat area is the first step to the UK returning to the export market, although yields and quality remain weather dependent. History shows that when farmers are able to turn intentions into reality, the Early Bird Survey gives a good indication of areas for key autumn sown crops in the UK.”

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