Nogger's Thoughts On UK Winter Wheat Plantings

As several noticed judging by my inbox this morning, I was away across the weekend & Monday, so there were no blog headlines yesterday.

I went down to Devon in fact & managed to amuse myself on the long & arduous journey down from North Yorks by clocking how many fields en-route appeared to have been left fallow across the winter.

OK, its not exactly a scientific approach, but one wonders if its any worse than the one adopted by the NFU. As one farmer & blog reader who emailed me a few weeks ago pointed out, in his opinion the NFU planting & yield figures are heavily southern biased.

Certainly the NFU suggestion that winter wheat plantings are only down 2-3% for the 2009 crop is one I would take issue with.

So here we go, travelling around North Yorks, as I have done extensively recently, I'd estimate that unplanted acres here are some 10-15% down on last year. I hear that this is similar, if not even slightly higher further north, although I myself haven't ventured into the wastelands of Northumbria & beyond.

Travelling to Hull a few weeks ago I'd say plantings on Humberside were maybe around 7% down.

South Yorkshire things aren't as bad as North Yorks, I'd say maybe 5-7% down, Notts/Derbys/Leics likewise. A big surprise to me was Staffs/Warwickshire, loads of fields there with wheat stubble still poking through. In those counties at the moment I'd say 15% unplanted.

Beyond that travelling down through the West Midlands through to Bristol area, we aren't talking about a large wheat area, maybe 10% reduction.

After that into the South West Somerset maybe a similar amount, 10% down. Devon considerably more, a 15-20% reduction.

OK, shoot me, I haven't travelled through East Anglia & the South East here, well you wouldn't en-route from Yorkshire to Devon would you? Still, Yorkshire & Humberside, the East Midlands, the West Midlands and South West account for roughly half of UK wheat production.

With also 10% coming from Scotland & the North East, where I also haven't travelled, but I think we can confidently predict that acreage reductions here will be more like North Yorkshire than they will East Anglia.

Add on the potential for yields in 2009 to be significantly below the records set in 2008, due to the high cost of fertilisers, and we could easily have a much reduced crop on our hands next year methinks.