Scottish Spring barley area on the up

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

AHDB’s planting survey has shown that the spring crop area has increased substantially with spring barley up from 244k ha to 256kha. Winter barley has fallen by 18%.

Gavin Dick, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, explains: “Due to the poor autumn drilling conditions in much of Scotland we have seen a fair drop in winter planting and an increase in the spring barley area. 

“There are of course regional differences across Scotland, I certainly seem to see a lot more barley in the north east, and our figures show that while the wheat area in the south has decreased this year, in percentage terms we have seen a far bigger drop in wheat planting in the north.”

Overall wheat has seen a marginal decrease, with 106 kha in the ground, down 3% on last year. In terms of varieties, the survey shows an increase in the area of nabim Group 3 varieties, representing 25% of the 2018 Scottish wheat area. This is up from 14% in 2017, seemingly at expense of the Group 4 Soft area.

The oilseed rape area has increased by 3% (to 35kha ha) and the oat figures are almost identical to last year at 32kha. However, the Scottish oat area remains historically high and above the five year average of 29kha. 

While there is a clear difference in winter and spring barley planting figures, overall the total Scottish barley area has remained static. Any change in yield we see later in the year will likely be down to environmental factors such as prolonged dry weather. 

Malting barley varieties with full approval from the Malting Barley Committee for harvest 2018 account for 71% of the total Scottish barley area. This is up from 2017 when varieties with full approval for that harvest accounted for 57% of the area, however those figures should be treated with caution. 

Gavin says: “While there seems to be a big change in the proportion of barley grown with full approval this year that is likely largely down to the fact that Laureate was not approved at the beginning of last season, but many farmers grew it as it was recommended, and it did then gain approval later in the year.”