Region suffers fall in wheat and barley yields

PROVISIONAL official figures show a 22% fall in overall barley yields and a 6% drop in wheat yields in the eastern region, while the overall UK yields went up by 2% for both.

The latest National Statistics data produced by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on behalf of the agriculture departments of the United Kingdom provisionally show slightly more land was given over to the crop as farmers tried to cash in on higher wheat prices. Final results will be published on December 22.

The figures indicate that the total agricultural area in the UK remains unchanged at 17.1 million hectares. Almost 36% of this land is considered to be croppable and the total croppable area is 1% larger than in 2010.

There was another record harvest of oilseed in the UK, with production increasing by 25% to 2.8 million

tonnes. The rise was due to a 10% increase in area and a 13% increase in yield.

The provisional 2011 wheat harvest for the UK came in at 15.4 million tonnes - an increase of 3% on

2010. This was due to a 1% increase in the wheat area to 2.0 million hectares together with a 2% increase in the

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yield to 7.8 tonnes per hectare, DEFRA said.

In the East of England, 505,000 hectares of wheat was planted, compared to 503,000 hectares in 2010. Wheat yields were 7.2 tonnes per hectare, compared to 7.6 tonnes in 2010 - a 6% decrease. Production in the east went from 3,846,000 tonnes last year to 3,619,000 tonnes this year - also a 6% drop.

Barley production saw an increase of 7% on 2010 to take it to 5.6 million tonnes. This was mainly due to a 13% increase in the area of spring barley to 610 thousand hectares, balancing the 6% reduction in winter barley to 358 thousand hectares. The increase in the spring barley area was partly due to spring crops being planted in place of wheat after late harvested sugar beet.

The yield for barley showed a 2% increase on last year to 5.8 tonnes per hectare across the UK. But in the eastern region, there was a 22% fall in yields from 5.6 tonnes per hectare in 2010 to 4.3 tonnes this year.