27 September 2000
UK cereals harvest up more than 8%

By FWi staff

THE UK cereals harvest has risen by 8.4% in 2000 to 24 million tonnes, according to National Farmers Union estimates.

The union attributes increased cereals output to an increase in area, mainly at the expense of other arable crops such as oilseed rape and linseed.

Lower prices and cuts in subsidies have made these options less attractive to producers.

Wheat output increased by 11.2% against 1999 Ministry of Agriculture figures to 16.53m tonnes.

The barley harvest showed a 1.5% rise to 6.68m tonnes.

This includes a drop of 7.8% in spring barley to 3.02m tonnes, offset by a 10.6% rise in winter barley which totalled 3.66m tonnes.

Oats and other cereals are up13.5% to 0.77m tonnes.

The NFU says 9% more land was drilled with wheat in England, with figures higher still in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But ground conditions meant a lower UK yield of 7.9 tonnes per hectare, compared to 8t/ha last year.

According to the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA), the quality of UK wheat is considerably better than in 1999, but similar to the five-year average.

The NFU reports that the rise in winter barley yields was down to an increase in area and higher yields.

But winter area is still 20% down on the five-year average, while yields of 6.17t/ha are close to the five-year average.

Figures showed that some producers who switched to spring barley due to wet weather two years ago had moved back to winter varieties.

But it would appear that others were choosing more profitable crops.

The HGCA said English winter barley had little disruption due to weather and was of reasonable quality.

The move away from spring barley explained its fall, while yields were slightly up at 5.4t/ha.

Early-cut Scottish spring barley is reported to demonstrate very low nitrogen levels, but later samples are reportedly of lower quality.

NFU economist Peter King said there could be new export prospects for markets in Central and Eastern Europe and Africa

Mr King said: “A lot of grain cargoes have been going out from Britain for inspection, were hoping now that customers come back and place orders.”