Survey highlights wheat optimism

THE AREA of winter wheat sown this year could increase compared to last autumn, according to a recent survey.

The RAGT Seeds national survey of 750 growers found that 85% intend to plant at least as much winter wheat this year as they did last autumn and 20% of these plan to increase their wheat area.

Two thirds of those surveyed also expected to maintain or increase the area of second wheats grown.

“Even without area aid and at current prices most growers are continuing to see wheat as their number one crop,” commented the firm’s technical specialist, Cathy Hooper.

Good gross margins in comparison to other crops are a key reason for the continuing popularity of winter wheat, she said.

For example, commercial analysis over the past five years found average gross margins of over £300/ha and £260/ha for first and second wheats respectively at £65/tonne compared to less than £250/ha from oilseed rape at £140/tonne, she said.

With wheat growing continuing to be challenging, minimising risk will be as important as maximising output, Dr Hooper noted.

“Consistency of performance has become at least as important as absolute yield. In this respect, they [growers] tell us they are placing greater emphasis than ever on reliability in variety selection and agronomy.”

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