While the area of spring barley grown across the UK has shown a jump of 6 per cent on the year, the figures for Scotland show a drop of 5 per cent in plantings, to just 243,000ha, similar to 2010.
Commenting on the figures, revealed in the AHDB planting survey released this week as combines swung into action south of the Border, market analyst Isobel Robinsons attributed the increase in England to a desire for better grass weed control.
However, while last year’s drop in the Scottish area was blamed on the introduction of the three-crop rule under the new CAP, Robinson said the fall in demand from the distilling trade was likely to have been a major factor influencing planting decisions this year – with anecdotal reports pointing to fewer malting barley contracts being available.
The area of oilseed rape in Scotland also fell, by around 13 per cent, and although there was a similar trend in England, plantings were down around 8 per cent.
The relative economic returns for the crop, together with losses of plant protection products accounted for the falls.
Scotland bucked the trend on wheat acreage, plantings up around 4 per cent on 2015, while the GB area was down 2 per cent.
Despite remaining relatively small, there was a large jump in oat plantings – up 14 per cent in Scotland and 4 per cent across the UK as a whole.