Good news and bad on farm cropping

Favourable drilling conditions and strong grain prices have supported an increase in the area of winter crops sown, but sharp rises in inputs – including fertiliser costs – are likely to limit any further increases.

That was the message to come out of the AHDB’s ‘Early Bird’ Survey of farmer’s sowing intentions.

The survey showed that UK wheat area for 2022 was forecast to be 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.

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And while the winter oilseed rape area was set to increase for the first time since 2018, by 12.9 per cent, this was unlikely to be as much as had originally been anticipated.

“With forward prices for rapeseed attractive and climbing all season, many might have been expecting a larger area rebound,” said AHDB analyst Megan Hesketh.

“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 was also up 2.8 per cent to 415,000 hectares, higher than both the five-year (395Kha) and 10-year average (398Kha).

However, on a UK basis, spring barley intentions predicted a 7.7 per cent year-on-year reduction in the area sown - to 688,000 hectares.

This would be the lowest area since 2016, although it was admitted that this area could change if prices remained strong.

Oat cropping intentions were set to fall five per cent for 2022, to 189,000 hectares, just above the five-year average.

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