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Spring Planting and Variety Survey

Updated 02 Jun 2020
The Planting and Variety Survey provides the GB planted area estimates for the upcoming harvest. Broken down not only into crops but also by nabim group and malting or non-malting approved feed barley.


  • GB wheat area is estimated at 1.802Mha, a 4% increase from 2018
  • GB spring barley area is estimated at 708Kha, down 4% from 2018
  • GB winter barley area is estimated at 422Kha, 11% higher than 2018
  • Area of oilseed rape in England and Scotland is estimated at 514Kha, down 11% from 2018
  • Area of oats in England and Scotland is estimated at 178Kha, an 8% increase from 2018
  • Skyfall the most popular wheat variety with 11.6% of area
  • Laureate accounts for 22.9% of barley area


Almost all regions of England and Scotland recorded an increased wheat area. Supported market prices of the 2018/19 marketing season may have incentivised this. Following the tight supply year of 2018/19, the outlook for 2019/20 is for a more pressured domestic market. With a potential return to a net export position, this may pose possible Brexit challenges.

In terms of varieties, estimated areas for nabim Group 1 and 2 varieties account for 36% of the 2019 GB wheat area, back two percentage points from last year. The decrease in the Group 2 area has been to the benefit of nabim Group 3 varieties. Accounting for 11% of the GB wheat area, these varieties recorded a 49Kha rise on the year and 99Kha on 2017.

Higher-yielding Group 3 varieties, such as KWS Barrel and Basset, have aided the recovery in the Group 3 area. Group 3 wheats have likely replaced some nabim Group 4 area, which is reduced. Both the Group 4 hard and Group 4 soft areas estimated decreases, back 43Kha and 19Kha respectively.


While the overall GB barley area remained largely similar to last year, the areas apportioned to winter and spring varieties changed. With crops overall looking in good condition, higher yields than last year could be expected. This increased production would add to domestic supply, potentially keeping markets pressured.

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. Conversely, the estimated GB spring barley area is 4% lower than last year, ending the previous four years expansion.

However, in Eastern and South Eastern regions the area has continued to increase in order to control black grass. Overall, 56% of the total GB barley area are malting barley varieties with full approval from the Malting Barley Committee. This is virtually unchanged from 2018. However, growing conditions so far have been less challenging for low nitrogen malting barley. This may result in the malting premium over feed barley being less pronounced than at the start of 2018/19.


At a combined 178Kha, the total oat area across England and Scotland is up 9% from 2018. 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 previous 5 years, Wales has represented a maximum of 4% of the GB oat area.

Oilseed Rape

Due to poor establishment in the dry autumn, followed by cabbage stem flea beetle damage, the oilseed rape area in England has been reduced to the lowest level since 2003.

Damaged oilseed rape crops in many circumstances were replaced with other cereal options. However where oilseed rape established well and have not suffered from larvae, crops have the potential to record good yields and crops in Northern England have seen less pest damage.

In Scotland the area has reduced to a lesser extent, down 6% at 31Kha, also suffering from significantly less pest damage.

Additional Information

  • The survey was sent out to a representative sample of 6655 farms and had a 48% response rate. Growers were asked to submit intended harvest areas and the area harvested last year. Data for this survey was collected during the months of May and June 2019.
  • Due to a low response rate, the Welsh oilseed rape area and Welsh oats figures are not available for individual publication.
  • Percentage changes are based on comparison to the Defra 2018 June Survey of Agriculture. This is due to the Defra June survey covering the entire United Kingdom and providing a consistent methodology. Please note, that for oilseed rape Defra provide only winter crop areas for the English regions. Therefore, to enable a consistent comparison with Scottish results, the English spring oilseed rape area from harvest 2018 has been apportioned in the same ratio as the winter crops and included in the regional totals for harvest 2019. • Please note that totals may not agree due to rounding.

Historic Spring Planting and Variety Survey results