Oilseed rape area looks lower for 2014

British farmers have planted – or are planning to plant – about 680,000ha of oilseed rape for next harvest, almost 6% less than last year, according to survey results from United Oilseeds.

Its members’ survey showed a 6.1% drop in winter rape plantings, to about 660,000ha, with spring rape area likely to drop by 79%, to about 20,000ha. That compared with a total area planted of 721,000ha last year – although farmers only harvested about 717,000ha of that due to the poor winter and spring weather, said Chris Baldwin, managing director of United Oilseeds. 

Yields this harvest (2013) were better than anticipated, given the difficult growing conditions, but were still below normal, at 3.18t/ha – 0.35t/ha down on last year. Total production had therefore fallen by almost 15% on the year, to an estimated 2.2m tonnes, he added. 

Seed sales for the coming season had shown an interesting shift away from conventional and hybrid varieties towards high erucic acid (HEAR) varieties, said Mr Baldwin. Conventional seed sales had fallen by about 16%, to 752,000t, making up 37% of the overall market, while sales of HEAR varieties increased by 10.4%, to about 106,000t (5% of the total market). 

Hybrid sales fell by 4.7%, to about 1,144t, meaning they still took 56% of the market share, while high oleic low linolenic (HOLL) varieties suffered a 43% decline in sales, to 28,000t (1% of the market).

Rapeseed plantings had also declined across the EU, said United Oilseeds trader Owen Cligg. “The area in France and Germany is likely to be down by 3.4%, as forward prices are not so attractive and growers are switching their rotation in favour of wheat and maize.”

More on this issue

United oilseeds expands with Hubbards Seeds aquisition

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