The area of wheat drilled by 1 December 2011 in England and Wales is estimated 3% higher than at the same time in 2010.
HGCA/AHDB’s winter planting survey puts the wheat area at 2.984m hectares and estimates a 6% rise in oilseed rape to almost 700,000ha.
Winter barley area is estimated 9% higher than in December 2010, encouraged by strong malting premiums, mixed farms looking to produce more home-grown feed and bedding, improved relative profitability of winter barley and the need to spread harvest workloads.
Winter oat sowings saw the highest rate of increase, rising by 13% after having fallen every year since 2005.
Generally favourable autumn weather meant good drilling progress against a market background of relatively strong forward crop prices. The rise in winter sowings of these crops was expected to trim spring cropping area and that of winter sown pulses, said HGCA.
The results of the survey are based on more than 3,000 responses from a representative sample of farm businesses.