While figures for cereal planting are ever more stark south of the Border

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while Scottish acreages were down, this week saw official confirmation of an even more dramatic 19 per cent fall in the acreage of cereals sown last autumn in England and Wales.

The figures which were collected by the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA )do not take into account any planting that took place post 1 December 2012 and they reflect the extremely difficult season with almost constant rainfall in September/October and November.

For winter wheat, the planted area is estimated at 1.394 million hectares, down 25 per cent on the previous year although the HGCA qualify the figures by saying some freezing conditions through the winter and drier weather in late February might have allowed further plantings.

For winter oilseed rape, the planted area is estimated at 0.688 million hectares, down 1 per cent on December 2011. However, the HGCA again qualify the figure, saying it expects that crop abandonment will be higher than usual with oilseed rape so the year-on-year decline in harvest area is likely to be noticeable.

With the winter barley planted area down 19 per cent on account of the wet autumn, the HGCA expect spring plantings to compensate. For winter oats, the planted area is estimated at 56,000 hectares, down 30 per cent on December 2011 leaving the HGCA to again speculate that spring-sown oats may capture some of the extra cropping land available this spring.

ANDREW ARBUCKLE