Provisional harvest estimates from Defra’s June survey point to 2020 yielding the smallest UK wheat harvest since 1981 and the largest barley crop since 1988.
Lower average yields across all cereal crops and oilseed rape, added to historically low wheat and oilseed crop areas, have reduced production volumes.

Only barley has seen an increase, although the larger spring crop only just offset the smaller winter volume, with a net increase of 4%.

Crop yields in 2019 were generally high, but the mean 2020 UK wheat yield of 7.2 tonnes/ha is below the five-year average of 8.4 tonnes/ha. The oilseed rape area, which has steadily decreased from the 760,000ha planted for harvest 2012, fell to a near 20 year low this year, while the mean yield of 2.8 tonnes/ha was below the five-year average of 3.5 tonnes/ha.

Provisional UK 2020 harvest results

(million ha)
(million tonnes)
% production change 2019/20
Total barley
- winter barley
- spring barley
Minor cereals
Oilseed rape3882.81.07-39
Source: Defra

Defra’s livestock figures show the UK’s total number of cattle and calves on June1st fell by 1.3% from the previous year to 9.6 million. The dairy breeding herd was 1.1% lower at 1.85m cows and the beef breeding herd down by 1% to 1.51m head.

For pigs, the female breeding herd fell by 2.6% to 403,000 sows, with the number of finishing pigs unchanged at 4.57m.

The total UK sheep and lamb flock fell 0.8% to 33.3m. The female breeding flock dropped 1.6% to 15.78m ewes, with the number of lambs almost unchanged at 16.7m head.

Estimates for poultry, horses, goats, farmed deer and camelids will be included in the final Defra numbers due in December.

The full provisional report