UK 2009 Crop Outlook

Delays to harvest 2008 plus a wet autumn have led to significantly reduced autumn plantings and poor establishment, according to Farming Online’s Autumn Sowing Survey which covers nearly a third of a million acres.

The survey of farmers and agronomists, conducted via Farming Online’s website, paints a dismal picture. Plantings of both winter wheat and winter oilseed rape are markedly reduced, especially in the wetter western parts of the country.

Farmers are asked to indicate how much of their intended autumn sowing had actually taken place and to rate how well those crops sown had established.

“Our findings point to harvest 2009 being well below average,” says Farming Online director Peter Griffith. “Especially when you consider this is the second wet season and soils are struggling to recover.”

Nationally only 80% of the planned acreage of winter wheat is established, with a further 10% sown late or not at all. The regional picture shows that although East Anglian farmers have managed to get most of their wheat acreage in and established, those further north or west have struggled. In the western half of the country nearly a third of the winter wheat acreage has yet to be sown and it is likely that this land will now be left for spring crops or even fallowed, they say.

The national winter oilseed rape crop has not got off to a good start either, they add. Some 28% of the national crop is either struggling to survive or has not been sown. Late sown crops have not put on the growth expected resulting in small plants which are susceptible to disease, winter kill or pigeon damage.

The north and west are bearing the brunt of the problem with over 15% of the crop sown late and a further 25% not sown at all.

Link: FOL Website