Harvest statistics reveal jump in cereal yields and OSR woes

This year’s bumper cereal harvest saw wheat match its previous high yield, set in 2015, of 9t/ha, while oilseed rape suffered the double whammy of a reduced area and poorer yields, according to the latest Defra statistics.

A more favourable growing season saw wheat and barley yielding 0.7t/ha and 1.3t/ha, respectively, higher than their five-year averages.

However, the cabbage stem flea beetle crisis continues to affect many arable farmers, with a 9.2% drop in area compared with 2018.

This resulted in the 2019 cropping area being a whopping 30% smaller than the peak area in 2012 – a reduction of more than 0.25m hectares.

See also: How Cambs grower has halved glyphosate use

Here Farmers Weekly takes a closer crop-by-crop look at the figures.


Production of wheat increased by more than 20% on the previous year, with UK growers harvesting an estimated 16.3m tonnes in 2019. The UK yield of 9t/ha is well above the five-year average of 8.3t/ha.


Winter barley

Winter barley production increased by 35.3% to 3.5m tonnes in 2019. This is due to a 16.9% increase in area, as well as a higher yield of 7.9t/ha in 2019.


Spring barley

Spring barley increased by 19.1% in 2019 to 4.6m tonnes. A 5% decrease in the area was more than offset by a 25.4% increase in the spring barley yield, which was 1.3t/ha higher in 2019 than the previous harvest.


Oilseed rape

The provisional oilseed rape harvest has shown a decrease of 13% in 2019 to just under 1.8m tonnes.

This was caused by a 9.2% decrease in the planted area, and the yield falling from 3.4t/ha in 2018 to 3.3t/ha in 2019, which is just below the five-year average.



The planted area of oats increased by 6.1% to 182,000ha. The UK yield increased by 19.9% to 6t/ha and similar increases were seen in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This resulted in an estimated production increase of more than 27%.



Looking at the pulse figures, Roger Vickers, chief executive of the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO), points to the UK bean crop being about 650,000t.

With the Defra June survey in England suggesting the bean crop area fell 11.4% to just under 134,000 ha, this would make the average yields almost 5t/ha, he says.

“That is about 2t/ha up on the very hot and dry crop of 2018.”

The same survey suggests the pea area increased by 7.3% to just over 40,000ha, and yields here have also been good, with excellent contract values.

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