The annual AHDB Planting and Variety Survey for 2020 has confirmed a large swing to spring cropping after the exceptionally wet autumn 2019 weather disrupted winter cereal plantings.

The survey is based on 1,042 responses from a sample provided by AHDB, Defra and the Scottish and Welsh Governments, collected during May and June 2020. The survey was held entirely online due to the Covid-19 restrictions – there was a low response rate from Wales for oilseed rape and oats, and the North East and North West barley and oilseed rape figures were combined for the same reason.

The survey shows wheat plantings have fallen by 25% from 2019 to 1.363 million hectares in Great Britain. The GB winter barley area is estimated at 296,000 hectares, 34% lower year-on-year. There are also concerns over the yield and quality of the winter crops that did manage to get sown and established as the dry spring conditions affected crop development.

Spring barley and oat areas are up significantly to replace some of the lost wheat area. The GB spring barley area is up 52% at 1.063m hectares from 2019 and the area of oats in England and Scotland is 21% higher at 211,000 hectares.

The oilseed rape area has continued its decline since the 2012 high, with a smaller planted area and a further proportion ripped up after failing to establish due to weather and Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle pressure. The AHDB estimates the osr area for England and Scotland at 387,000 hectares, down 26% from 2019. It would be the smallest harvest area in England since 2002, again following a wet autumn.

“The UK grower has faced many challenges this season, with a very wet autumn, followed by an extremely dry spring,“ notes AHDB analyst Anthony Speight. “However, it is critical to note going into the next marketing season that although we are going into a wheat deficit, our prices will be capped by the market as we reach import parity. Furthermore, barley export markets beyond Europe may be our only option after December, depending on the progress of Brexit negotiations.”

AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Board chair Paul Temple adds: “For most growers, this has been a season they would rather forget. As they start planning for the first crops post-Brexit, two things will be important, the market they choose to target and the varieties that offer agronomic resilience.”

By variety, the survey shows that Skyfall is the most popular wheat variety, with 10% of the area, while RGT-Planet (both from RAGT Seeds) is the most popular barley variety with a 28% share.

The full AHDB Planting and Variety Survey regional and national results are available via the AHDB Survey Results webpage.


2020 estimate
2019 final

% change

Oilseed Rape*355492-28