Regional split as oilseed rape crop area declines in east
- Credit: Archant
Many East Anglian farmers have rejected oilseed rape (OSR) this year in favour of other crops, a survey suggests.
In marked contrast to the southwest and north west of England, where estimated plantings have risen by 11% and 13% respectively, the eastern region has seen a 21% decline in the number of hectares planted with OSR compared to the 2016 harvest - it’s thought because of the threat posed by the cabbage stem flea beetle crop pest.
The region has also seen an overall 7% fall in the estimated planting area for wheat, winter barley, oats and OSR combined.
The AHDB Winter Planting Survey, showing plantings as at December 1, 2016, indicates that the English area of oilseed rape will be around 538Kha, so unless there is an increase in the spring area, or a rise in abandonment levels, the overall area is likely to be similar to last harvest. In other regions, oilseed rape still seems to remain the break crop of choice, possible due to higher prices at the time of planting, the study found.
AHDB market analyst Isobel Robinson said the regional split and the shift way from OSR in East Anglia could be down to pest damage concerns.
“This shift away from oilseed rape in the East is likely due to production pressures, including the potential risk from cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) damage,” she said.
The survey estimates the area planted in England and Wales of wheat and winter barley plus oilseed rape and oats in England at 2.59Mha. The bulk of this is wheat, at 1.59Mha, then oilseed rape (538Kha), winter barley (369Kha) and oats (95Kha).
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England has seen a 6% decline in wheat area, while Wales saw a 4% rise, and anecdotal comments suggest growers are considering longer rotations to control weeds and disease, AHDB said.
“In recent years we have seen increased interest in cultural controls for weeds and disease, particularly black-grass, which has contributed to a rise in spring cropping. In addition, market conditions continue to challenge the economics of the whole rotation,” said Ms Robinson.
Eastern region farmers have planted 2% more winter barley than last year, and 15% more oats, but the wheat area in the region is down by 6%.
Other than the north west and the east, all opted to grow fewer oats.