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Fields of gold, as yellow gets the boot

The colour palette of our fields are likely to look slightly different next year as farmers are switching from spring barley to wheat and growers are turning away from oil seed rape in their droves.

A move to spring barley in recent years has been reversed as growers switch back to winter cropping according to the research body Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB). Group 1 and 2 varieties account for 44 per cent of the 2021 British wheat area, which is up three per cent on 2020.

Oil seed rape growth continues to plunge

Sowing conditions and good wheat prices have precipitated the change.

There has also been a small (1 per cent) increase in the amount of oats being grown. This follows a big upsurge in oar production last year. Barley is down 18 per cent. 

Meanwhile, pest pressure, low yields and tricky weather conditions have seen the area under oil seed rape production drop yet again – 15 per cent across the country, although it is 34 per cent down in East Anglia. 

Key survey findings

•GB wheat area is estimated at 1,742Kha, a 26 per cent increase from 2020.

•GB spring barley area is estimated at 769Kha, down 28 per cent from 2020.

•GB winter barley area is estimated at 350Kha, a 15 per cent increase from 2020.

•GB oilseed rape area is estimated at 322Kha, down 15 per cent from 2020.

•GB oat area is estimated at 211Kha, a 1 per cent increase from 2020.

•Skyfall is the most popular wheat variety, with 12 per cent of the total wheat area.

•Laureate is the most popular barley variety, accounting for 26 per cent of the total barley area.

Source: AHDB