Winter barley and oats on the up in Scotland

Friday, 5 July 2019

There has been a further increase in the Scottish winter barley area in 2019, while oats are also estimated to have increased, potentially due to decreased plantings of oilseed rape.

According to the results of the annual AHDB Planting and Variety Survey, the winter barley area in Scotland is 43kha, up 16% on 2018, while the oat area has expanded by 4kha, an increase of 12%. 

Peter Collier, AHDB Analyst, said: "Following the drawn out and challenging harvest of the 2017 Crop, which led to an increased proportion of Spring barley being planted, the more favourable Autumn conditions of 2018 have allowed a recovery in the winter barley area."

The key findings of the survey are:

  • GB wheat area is estimated at 1.802Mha, a 4% increase from 2018 / the Scottish wheat area is estimated at 103kha, an increase of 3% from 2018
  • GB spring barley area is estimated at 708Kha, down 4% from 2018 / the Scottish spring barley area is estimated at 239kha, a decrease of 3% from 2018
  • GB winter barley area is estimated at 422Kha, 11% higher than 2018 / the Scottish winter barley area is estimated at 43kha, 26% higher than 2018
  • Area of oilseed rape in England and Scotland is estimated at 514Kha, down 11% from 2018 / the Scottish oilseed rape area is estimated at 31kha, a 6% decline on 2018
  • Area of oats in England and Scotland is estimated at 178Kha, a 9% increase from 2018 / the Scottish oat area is estimated at 36kha, a 12% increase from 2018

The full AHDB Planting and Variety Survey results are available to download on the AHDB Survey Results page.

Oilseed Rape

In Scotland the oilseed rape area has reduced to a lesser extent than seen in England, down 6% at 31Kha, due to significantly less pest damage.

Due to poor establishment in the dry autumn, followed by cabbage stem flea beetle damage, planting in England has been reduced to the lowest level since 2003. Damaged oilseed rape crops, in many circumstances, were replaced with cereals.


Almost all regions of England and Scotland recorded an increased wheat area. Good prices during the 2018/19 marketing season may have incentivised this.

However in GB as a whole, both the Group 4 hard and Group 4 soft areas are estimated to decrease, back 43Kha and 19Kha respectively.


While the overall Scottish barley area remained largely similar to last year, something mirrored in the rest of Britian, however the areas planted to winter and spring varieties changed. With crops overall looking in good condition, yields could be higher than last year. This increased production would add to domestic supply, potentially keeping a cap on prices.

The GB winter barley area has recovered from last year's lows. At 422Kha, the area reported is up 11% from 2018, with a timely 2018 Scottish harvest aiding the recovery in Scotland's planted area, where we have seen a 16% inccrease on last year's figures.

The estimated Scottish spring barley area is 5% lower than last year, the 239kha estimate makes it the second lowest spring barley area in Scotland in the last decade. In eastern and south eastern English regions the area has continued to increase to control black grass.

Overall, 69% of the total Scottish barley area are malting barley varieties with full approval from the Malting Barley Committee. This is virtually unchanged from 2018. Growing conditions so far have been good for low nitrogen malting barley, which may result in the malting premium over feed barley being less pronounced than at the start of 2018/19. 


The total oat area across Scotland is up 12% from 2018, while the full GB figure stands at 9%. A rise in the South East and East Midlands areas lifted the English estimate by 8%, with these regions potentially planting oats as an alternative to oilseed rape. As such, production is likely to increase for 2019/20 for a limited domestic market.

Due to a low Welsh survey response rate for oats, the AHDB is unable to provide an area for Wales and therefore GB. In the last five years, Wales has represented a maximum of 4% of the GB oat area.