UK wheat-sown areas are down this year, says HGCA

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wheat, European union, International trade

The area sown to wheat and barley over the last season in the UK
has decreased, said the HGCA last week, yet there is no apparent
cause for concern as good yields may still produce a strong crop,
reports Lorraine Heller.

The area planted to wheat and barley has decreased by 3 and 8 per cent respectively, reveal the estimates for the country's 2005 winter and spring cereal harvests.

"A number of factors may have contributed to the decline in area such as producers switching to plant oilseed rape or allocating land as set aside, in response to low cereal prices at the time of planting,"​ said HGCA economist Michael Archer.

"Wet weather that delayed the 2004 harvest in many regions and continued into the early autumn may also have led to the decline in winter cereal plantings."

This does not necessarily pose a threat to the UK's wheat and barley production, says Archer. "The final amount that is produced will depend on the yield of the crop, which is determined by a number of factors such as weather and the presence of pests,"​ he told BakeryAndSnacks.com.

UK wheat production could be similar or even higher than last year based on trend yields.

Import and export levels and requirements are likely to remain the same, with final quantities determined by crop quality.

The UK currently produces around 15m tonnes of wheat annually, 3m of which is exported.

One million tonnes of hard, high protein wheat are currently imported into the UK annually, from countries such as America, Canada, Germany and France. This is blended with the softer UK wheat in order to achieve bread volume.

The HGCA survey indicates how the largest percentage falls in UK planted wheat areas are expected to be in the North West (11%), East Midlands (6%) and the Eastern region (4%).

Scottish and Welsh wheat areas are predicted to increase by 5 and 8 per cent respectively.

The survey shows a 6 per cent increase in the planted area of oilseed rape. The area under set-aside also rose by 14 per cent.

Related topics: Ingredients

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