Winter cropping area set to rise, says AHDB


Favourable drilling conditions and strong prices have supported an increase in winter cropping, according to AHDB’s Early Bird Survey. However, high input costs may have limited further rises.

The intended UK wheat area for 2022 is forecast up 1.3 per cent year-on-year, to 1.81 million hectares, higher than the 10-year average and back in line with the 2019 area.

And while the winter oilseed rape area is set to increase for the first time since 2018, by 12.9 per cent, this may not be as much as anticipated.

AHDB analyst Megan Hesketh said: “With forward prices for rapeseed attractive and climbing all season, many might have been expecting a larger area rebound. But at the timing of cropping decisions, high input prices and the persistent issue of cabbage stem flea beetle may be capping gains in UK area grown.”

The estimated 2022 winter barley area is also up 2.8 per cent to 415,000 hectares, higher than both the five-year (395Kha) and 10-year average (398Kha).

Spring barley intentions are expected to be back 7.7 per cent year-on-year, to 688,000 hectares, the lowest area since 2016 if realised – but this could change should prices remain strong.

Oat cropping intentions are set to fall five per cent for 2022, to 189,000 hectares, just above the five-year average. “But with oats holding a sizable discount to other cereals this season, a move towards other cropping may not be surprising,” Megan added.

In terms of alternative break crops, other oilseeds are expected to decline 6.7 per cent on the year, as are pulses down 5.1 per cent to 235,000 hectares, back to 2020 levels. Megan said: “This change is likely down to an extension of cereal rotations, with pulses’ yields still considered variable year-on-year. Seed availability will also be a factor.”

Forecast arable fallow area for 2022 is up by 15 per cent, to 306,000 hectares. This could be linked to the move in domestic policy from direct payments, with less productive land potentially earmarked for environmental schemes. Rising input costs may also be a factor in decision making.