The oilseed rape area drilled this autumn is predicted to fall by more than 10% after a tough growing season and a late cereal harvest.
Leading seed supplier Dekalb, owned by Monsanto, says the area drilling this autumn will be down but it is still likely to be one of the biggest on record.
The group says a difficult year of cold and wet weather together with pigeon and slug damage is being compounded by a likely delayed harvest of preceding cereal crops.
“We are predicting the area to fall certainly to around 650,000ha this autumn,” says Geoff Hall, commercial lead seeds & traits for north west Europe at Monsanto.
About one-fifth of the drilled winter crop was pulled up in the current difficult growing season, so the actual area for the 2014 harvest could actually show a small rise from the 2013 crop.
Last autumn’s drillings were estimated to have fallen just short of the 756,000ha harvest area in 2012, but around 20% was ripped up to leave a winter crop of 550,000-600,000ha currently in the ground.
Dekalb says there will be good availability of its top varieties such as Expower, Excalibur, Extrovert and Excellium as its seed crops were grown and harvested early in the south of France.
The group expects that its current market share of 45-50% will increase this autumn as many of its rapeseed varieties are relatively new, and as it expands into specialist and semi-dwarf varieties.
Its high oleic, low linolenic (HOLL) rapeseed varieties, sold under the Vistive brand, and also its semi-dwarf varieties such as Sensei, are expected to do well, Mr Hall said.
The varieties producing HOLL rapeseed oil have been developed to meet the needs of food industry giants, like McDonald’s, for high temperature frying.
A 650,000ha predicted rapeseed drilled area is seen as quite a bullish figure by David Leaper, technical arable manager with Openfield, with all the pressure this autumn from crop rotations.
With a late harvest of winter wheat and a lot of late-maturing spring crops in the ground it is going to be quite a challenge to turn things around quickly this autumn, he says.
“A lot of rapeseed will be drilled before all the oilseed rape is harvested this year,” Mr Leaper adds.
Owen Cligg, trading manager at United Oilseeds, expects the total oilseed rape area, including spring rapeseed, to be around 625,000-650,000ha for the 2014 harvest.
He adds that it is difficult to estimate autumn drillings because of the late cereal harvest and the rapid turnaround which will be needed to get rapeseed in the ground.