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UK Farming Statistics


15 August 2013

UK Farming Statistics: Provisional Arable Crop Areas at 1 June 2013 EnglandUK Farming Statistics: Provisional Arable Crop Areas at 1 June 2013 England

This release contains the first results from the 2013 June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture. Provisional estimates are included for the main cereal, oilseed and uncropped arable land areas on commercial holdings on 1 June 2013 broken down by English region.
UK Farming Statistics

Cereals

Wheat

The 2013 provisional early wheat area estimate for England is 1.5 million hectares. This has decreased by 19% from just under 1.9 million hectares in June 2012 and is the lowest area seen in the past thirty years (see figure 1 for the last ten years of data).

The decrease in area is partly due to the wet conditions preventing farmers from planting winter sown crops. From conversations with farmers there have also been many cases where winter sown crops have been planted but failed due to subsequent bad weather. As a result of both, affected land has either been left out of production or planted with spring sown crops when possible.

(a) The figures from 2003 to 2008 are for all holdings. Figures for 2009 to 2013 are for commercial holdings only.

The decrease in wheat area has been seen across all of the English regions with the largest proportional change (23%) in the North West & Merseyside. This is closely followed by the North East, the West Midlands and the South West all decreasing by 21% (figure 2).

Barley

Barley is another crop where weather conditions have led to large changes in area in 2013. Given the difficult conditions at time of planting, the winter sown barley area has decreased by 22% since 2012 to 257 thousand hectares. As a result many farmers have planted spring sown barley which has led to a 92% increase from 294 thousand hectares in 2012 to 564 thousand hectares in 2013.

The spring sown area has also been boosted further by some of those farmers who were unable to plant wheat planting spring barley instead. The large increase in spring sown barley has more than offset the decrease in winter barley, resulting in a total barley area of 821 thousand hectares. This is the largest area of barley grown for more than a decade (see figure 3).

(a) The figures from 2003 to 2008 are for all holdings. Figures for 2009 to 2013 are for commercial holdings only.

Oats

The area of oats increased by 53% between 2012 and 2013, rising from 92 to 141 thousand hectares. This is the largest area of oats grown for thirty years and may be due to cereal farmers choosing to plant oats when they were unable to plant wheat and winter barley.

Cereal production

The 2013 harvest has had a slow start with many crops developing later due to difficult weather conditions earlier in the year. Around 30% of the winter oilseed harvest has been completed but it is too early to see how the weather has affected yields as the areas harvested so far are those from better established crops. The first official Defra harvest estimates will be published on 17 October 2013 and will be available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-ruralaffairs/ series/structure-of-the-agricultural-industry.

Oilseed rape

Since the early eighties the area of oilseed rape has been increasing steadily, reaching a record high in 2012. Despite falling by 5% in 2013, the total area still remains the second highest on record at 674 thousand hectares.

The changes in total oilseed area vary across regions. All regions saw a decrease in area with the exception of the West Midlands which increased by 6%. The largest proportional decrease (15%) was seen in the North East with the East Midlands and the North West & Merseyside seeing the next largest decrease (9%).

The area of winter oilseed rape has historically accounted for the majority of the total oilseed area. This is still the case in 2013, however the shift seen from winter to spring sown crops due to the weather has resulted in the spring area now accounting for a larger proportion of the total (13% in 2013 compared with 2% in 2012).

Uncropped arable land

The provisional estimate of uncropped arable land in England is 232 thousand hectares at 1 June 2013. This is the largest area since 2007 when set-aside was abolished (figure 5).

The increase in area can be explained by the terrible weather conditions forcing many farmers to leave large areas of land intended for winter cereals and oilseeds uncropped. Many other farmers have had to abandon failed crops due to pest damage and water logged fields, which has led to additional areas of land being out of production at 1 June 2013.

(a) The figures from 2003 to 2008 are for all holdings. Figures for 2009 to 2013 are for commercial holdings only.

August 2013

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