Spring barley hit worse than wheat by UK dryness

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Spring barley was far more badly hurt than other crops, including wheat, by the UK’s dry spring, with yields potentially on course for their lowest level since at least the 1990s.

Adas said that the UK winter wheat crop, now 50% harvested, looked set to end up with a yield not far behind average, after poor results from crops grown on lighter soils in the east of England, where some crops produced 2 tonnes per hectare, gave way to better results.

"On heavier soils in the same region, and elsewhere, yields have been better… with a number of reports of 11-13 tonnes per hectare," the consultancy said, forecasting a national average result of 7.3-7.7 tonnes per hectare.

While implying a yield below the typical 7.8 tonnes per hectare, even the worst-case scenario would beat the 7.2 tonnes per hectare reaped in 2007, and come in ahead of results feared earlier in the year when crops suffering during one of the driest springs on record.

Furthermore, wheat quality was reported as "good".

Barley setback

However, Adas said the spring barley crop, of which some 35% is in silos, looked set to come in "well below" the average of 5.3 tonnes per hectare.

It could potentially drop to 4.8 tonnes per hectare, falling short of the recent low of 4.9 tonnes per hectare set in 2002.

But, the consultancy cautioned that its data might be skewed by the predominance in results so far of eastern crops, of which a "high proportion… have been affected by the dry spring".

‘Better than expected’

Indeed, the trend of harvest results improving as they head west and north has been a feature of other crops, with Adas edging higher to 6.0-6.2 tonnes per hectare, from 5.9-6.1 tonnes per hectare, its forecast for the yield in UK winter barley, of which nearly all is in silos.

For winter rapeseed, the average yield was seen potentially reaching 3.8 tonnes per hectare, well above the average of 3.3 tonnes per hectare.

Rapeseed yields "have been better than expected", Adas said.


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