Crop development

May 2024
The interactive tool at the bottom of this page helps show the condition and growth stages of different crops across GB. The chart is split into regions and uses colours to show different conditions. You can also use the bottom chart to see growth stages of cereals or oilseeds.


Winter crops are now growing well in most regions, and most are far stronger than last month. However, farming conditions have remained more problematic in the central and Northern parts of England, than Southern England, and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. This is reflected in the local crop condition ratings which have, in some cases, not improved from last month.

Overall, nature has an impressive way of catching up with the seasons. Most winter crops are at the expected growth stages for the time of year despite their extremely poor start, and spring crops generally look well.

There have still been difficulties getting onto land to spray during May and some farmers are still behind; others skipped or simply missed certain applications. The weather has been catchy and finding windows of opportunity has been a challenge for many growers, especially those with heavy, wet soils. However, the light showers have favoured growth for most crops.

Spring crop condition is mostly good or excellent, which eases some pressures of the previous month of getting spring crops drilled. Nevertheless, drilling delays may have affected yield potential, and some regions did not manage to complete drilling, so the fallow area will be high this year.

We will learn at harvest how well crops recovered from periods of persistent environmental stress. Leafy crops do not necessarily translate into high yields.

Overall, no records are expected to be broken this year. Most spring planting was late, but plants are catching up remarkably. Yields will probably be affected by the poor timings of applications.

The information in this report was captured up to Wednesday 5 June 2024 for AHDB by The Andersons Centre. Key differences between crops are explored below, with more detail in the full report.

Crop condition definitions

Crop condition was assessed using the USDA approach. This classifies crops into one of five categories, from very poor through to excellent (see details below). The values are given as the percentage of the GB crop area for that crop that falls in each of the categories – regional condition scores are available on the crop reporting dashboard at the bottom of this page.

  • Very Poor - Extreme degree of loss to yield potential, complete or near crop failure.
  • Poor - Heavy degree of loss to yield potential, which can be caused by excess soil moisture, drought, disease, etc.
  • Fair - Less than normal crop condition. Yield loss is a possibility, but the extent is unknown.
  • Good - Yield prospects are normal. Moisture levels are adequate and disease, insect damage, and weed pressures are minor.
  • Excellent - Yield prospects are above normal. Crops are experiencing little or no stress. Disease, insect damage, and weed pressures are insignificant.

From March 2024, the survey work was undertaken by The Andersons Centre, while for previous years the survey work was undertaken by RSK ADAS; please take this into consideration when comparing to historical figures.


Nationally, the wheat crop is described as average for most, although, there are pockets where the crop is good or even excellent. Overall, winter wheat is looking considerably better than last month. 55% of GB winter wheat is rated as in good or excellent condition, up from 45% a month ago, though still below last year’s 85%. 

Agronomists have been astonished by the level of canopy expansion since growing conditions improved. Mother Nature has played catch up, but it is not yet clear whether she has brought yields along with the leafy growth. However, where ears have emerged, ear size and site numbers look promising. Remaining yield potential will now be determined by the sunshine throughout June and early July.

Chart showing GB winter wheat crop condition scores at the end of May 2024 and May 2023

For spring wheat, 59% of crops across GB are in good or excellent condition, compared to 77% last year. A month ago, most spring wheat had yet to be planted or emerge.

Chart showing GB spring wheat crop condition scores at the end of May 2024 and May 2023

Winter barley

Winter barley is a tale of two halves. On the better land with more free draining soils, it is similar to wheat in that it has recovered remarkably well. Many of these crops look strong, although barley can be deceiving when it’s in head with awns waving in the wind. On the heavier soils and those areas that were waterlogged until early spring, winter barley crops are average to poor. They have low tiller numbers and so although they have caught up, we suspect yield potential will be low.

Crops have generally caught up with the stage of development expected at this time of year.

Across GB, 62% of winter barley is now rated as in a good or excellent condition. This is up from 56% at the end of April, but below the 88% at the end of May 2023.

Chart showing GB winter barley crop condition scores at the end of May 2024 and May 2023

Spring barley

On the whole, prospects are encouraging. Given the late drilling date and variable seed bed conditions, most growers are pleasantly surprised with how well spring barley crops are developing.

Some spring barley crops are still a week or more behind where they would normally be at this time of year. But this might be expected, having been planted a month late in some cases. Despite their delay, crops are racing through their growth stages and look healthy and strong. They may yet catch up with their ‘normal’ growth stage completely by next month. 

A few areas of spring barley on heavier soils of the Midlands are thin and behind. In Scotland, the crop is looking stronger and healthier by the day and has largely caught up with the stage of development expected at this time of year.

55% of GB spring barley is rated as in a good or excellent condition, compared to 73% at the end of May 2023.

Chart showing GB spring barley crop condition scores at the end of May 2024 and May 2023


Oats are looking good considering the conditions most were planted into, the majority (proportionally even, more than usual) being spring oats. Spring oats have grown quickly and boldly to give strong plants in most cases, even those planted as late as the end of April.

Chart showing GB winter oat crop condition scores at the end of May 2024 and May 2023

Across GB, 53% of winter oats are now rated as in a good or excellent condition, broadly in line with the rating at the end of April but still below last year’s 80%. However, 73% of spring oats are currently rated as good or excellent, in line with the national (GB) rating at the end of May 2023.

Chart showing GB spring oat crop condition scores as at the end of May 2024 and May 2023

Oilseed rape

The plants that survived, in many cases, have flourished in the space left from those that did not make it through winter. However, this still leaves gappy fields in some regions, particularly Midlands where the worst weather and heavy soil combination appeared to be. In the warmer and drier regions, such as the South East, there is good potential for the crop, which has podded well. Sun is now needed to fill them.

Overall, though oilseed rape crops are likely to have limited yield potential this year for many growers. Yields are therefore expected to be poor, even in the areas without patches. Across GB, 49% of winter oilseed rape is rated as in a good or excellent condition, slightly up from 47% at the end of April but still below last year’s 63%.

Chart showing GB winter oilseed rape crop condition scores at the end of May 2024 and May 2023

Whilst spring oilseed rape may have increased in area this year as a result of failed winter oilseed rape fields, the area remains very small and of limited significance. 67% of spring oilseed rape is rated as good or excellent; no year-on-year comparison is available.

Download the latest crop development report

How to use the dashboard

  • Use the drop down menu at the top of the first chart to view the crop conditions of a particular crop in each region.

  • Use the drop down menus at the top of the second chart to view the percentage of a crop at each growth stage. The drop down menus can also be used to show the information for a particular region.

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