England’s wheat acreage dropped 4% on the year, according to DEFRA’s December agricultural survey.
Wheat plantings fell from 1.7m hectares to just over 1.6m last autumn, suggesting fewer farmers had scaled back wheat production under the single farm payment than many had feared.
HGCA economist Julian Bell said the figures suggested CAP reform was becoming “more of an evolution than a radical change”.
“Farmers aren’t suddenly changing what they’re doing. Since 2002, the pattern has been a quiet reduction in wheat plantings accounting for about 500,000t a year.”
The small drop in area reflected farmers had taken lower-yielding areas and awkward parcels of land out of production, but favourable conditions had allowed them to drill the rest.
“And even though single farm payments will be pared down over the coming years, first wheats still pay for many farmers.
“It’s most likely some are dropping second wheats and smaller, isolated parcels of land are getting bypassed,” said Mr Bell.