Wheat yields lowest for 25 years

Wednesday 10 October 2012 09:47
Stormy fields at harvest time

At 6.7t/ha, UK wheat yields are down 14.1% on the five year average, the lowest since the late 1980s.

The NFU’s harvest survey puts the total crop at 13.25m tonnes, a fall of just over 11% on the five year average from an area that was 3.8% higher.

However, the average results hide extreme variations across the country, said chief arable advisor Guy Gagen. Winter barley and oilseed rape yield were up on the five year average while spring barley suffered a drop (see panel).

“Although 2012 may be a harvest to forget for many, it has underlined the need for continual investment in agriculture.”

Despite a summer of persistent and occasionally torrential rain, the survey showed other major arable crops in the UK performing well in difficult conditions.

“Results have been mixed across the main arable crops in 2012,” said Mr Gagen “Yields for some crops have performed better than average in 2012 with results for barley reported as good for malting and around average for rapeseed in terms of oil content and yield.

“Much of the 2013 rapeseed crop is now planted and up, and farmers will be looking for further breaks in the weather to complete winter cereal crop planting.”

Investment in grain drying and handling facilities had been vital, he said, while improved combine capacity meant significant progress was made when breaks in the weather allowed.

NFU 2012 Harvest survey results:


  • Yields down 14.1% on five year average, from 7.8 to 6.7t/ha.
  • Area planted up 3.8% on five year average, from 1.916m ha to 1.988m ha.
  • Estimated UK production down 11.1% on five year average, from 14.915m tonnes to 13.25m tonnes. 

Winter Barley

  • Yields up 1.6% on five year average, from 6.3 to 6.4t/ha.
  • Area up 0.5% on five year average, from 389,000ha to 391,000ha.
  • Estimated production up 0.6% on five year average, from 2.472m tonnes to 2.486m tonnes.

Spring Barley

  • Yields down 7.4% on five year average, from 5.4 to 5t/ha.
  • Area down 1.2% on five year average, from 604,000ha to 597,000ha.
  • Estimated production down 9.1% on five year average, from 3.255m tonnes to 2.958 m tonnes.

Oilseed Rape

  • Yields up 5.9% on five year average, from 3.4 to 3.6t/ha.
  • Area up 18.6% on five year average, from 639,000ha to 758,000ha.
  • Estimated production up 25.5% on five year average, from 2.196m tonnes to 2.755m tonnes.

For more on this topic

Harvest 2012: One of the latest on record

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