UK rapeseed area shows strong growth after years of decline

The UK’s rapeseed cropping area is set to bounce back this autumn, with prices reaching new highs.

Autumn drilling of oilseed rape for 2021 is estimated at 367,000ha, with the planted area likely to increase further to 450,000ha in 2022, according to industry forecasts.

Increased plantings are being encouraged by current high oilseed rape prices, which could stay high for some time.

See also: Oilseed rape makes a return with an early start

Rapeseed prices on the Paris futures market (Matif) for February 2022 opened at €688/t (£589.75) on 5 November.

Chris Baldwin, managing director at grower co-op United Oilseeds, said: “After many years of decline, the UK’s drilled rapeseed area has now begun to increase and we believe it is a trend that will continue.

“Reports from around the regions so far indicate that this year’s OSR crop is doing very well with good establishment – particularly early drilled rapeseed.”

2021 harvest

United Oilseeds has estimated the total crop size in 2021 was 279,000ha with an average yield of 3.2t/ha. This resulted in production totalling 893,000 tonnes.

The UK has been left with a deficit of 1m tonnes, which will need to be imported, however, increased transportation costs and potential shipping delays are likely to affect this.

Hybrid varieties increased their market share of total plantings in 2021, making up 73%, while conventional hybrids made up the remaining 27%.

Aurelia was the most used hybrid variety, accounting for 18% of the total hybrid market. Acacia remained the number one conventional variety, accounting for 40% of the conventional market.

Financial performance

United Oilseeds has increased its share of the UK rapeseed market to 30%, with pre tax profits of £1.51m from a turnover of 171.9m, in the year to June 2021.

In the previous financial year, pre-tax profits totalled £1.16m, with an annual turnover of £142.5m.

Following the successful year, the farmer-owned co-operative announced a profit distribution payment of £440,000 to its trading members.