Arable farmers will plant 28% more wheat this season than a year ago, returning to the crop after wet weather prevented many fields being drilled in autumn 2019.
The AHDB forecasts that farmers intend to plant 1.8m hectares of wheat this year, almost identical to what was put in the ground in 2019 and in line with the five-year average.
The levy board’s Early Bird Survey shows the winter barley area has also made a strong recovery, up 24% to 394,000ha.
The change is likely to see a significantly larger wheat crop harvested in 2021, reducing the amount needed for imports.
Traders are already anticipating better supplies, with the Nov-21 futures price at £160/t (30 November), compared with the pre-harvest May-21 contract trading at £192/t – close to its contract high – amid fears of tight domestic supplies as the trading year comes to a close.
The burgeoning area of winter cropping has come from snatching back land that had been drilled with emergency crops of spring barley last season.
The area of the popular crop is forecast to be 767,000ha, a 30% drop from last season’s whopping 1.1m hectares, but only slightly above the five-year average of 711,000ha.
AHDB analyst Anthony Speight said: “Drilling has reportedly gone significantly better than last year, when many growers struggled to get crops in the ground due to wet conditions.
“As a result of more favourable weather this autumn, we have seen significant year-on-year rises in planted area across winter cereals.
“The exception is oilseed rape, which continues to decrease, with many growers challenged by the threat of cabbage stem flea beetle. But this has led to some more niche crops gaining ground.”
The AHDB predicts the OSR area will fall 18.1% to 318,000ha, in line with another forecast by rapeseed trader United Oilseeds.