UK average wheat, spring barley and winter barley yields all reached new records in 2015, according to provisional data released by UK Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.

According to the HGCA, it is important to remember that these yields are calculated from the production and area figures, but give a good indication of the trends.

It says the high yields follow a favourable growing season, though are generally lower than those suggested by some.

It also notes while oat and oilseed rape yields also remain high, they are slightly down from last year.

As a result UK crops are estimated at:

  • Winter barley at 3.32Mt, up from 3.09Mt in 2014 and the highest since 2002.
  • Spring barley at 3.95Mt, up from 3.82Mt in 2014 but still lower than the exceptional crop harvested in 2013 when the area soared due to a difficult autumn. This includes a Scottish spring barley crop of 1.57Mt – down from 1.67Mt in 2014.
  • Oilseed rape at 2.32Mt, a drop of 6% year on year, mainly due to a lower planted area – read more here.
  • Oats at 779Kt, down from the 820Kt harvested last year but still above the previous five-year average. English production is estimated down 11% to 560Kt, while Scottish output climbs 17% to 178kt.

Irish provisional estimates

The area under winter wheat looks to have fallen a massive 17% this year, according to Teagasc’s provisional cereal harvest estimates 2015.

The reduction, estimated at over 11,000ha in the winter wheat area led to a knock-on reduction in production of 14% or 93,000t.

The area under spring barley has also reduced significantly, according to the Teagasc estimates. The figures show that this year saw farmers sow almost 27,000ha less of the crop with a corresponding reduction in production of 15% or 180,000t.

One of the key reasons for the shifts in Ireland’s cropping patterns is the new CAP greening measures which act to increase the levels of crop diversification across Europe.

Teagasc crop estimates

The Teagasc estimates also show a significant shift by tillage farmers towards winter barley. An increase of 13% or 8,000ha in the spring barley area was seen in 2015 with production up some 22% or 121,000t.