High prices this year have encouraged growers to increase wheat plantings for the 2019 crop.

Good drilling conditions this autumn also contributed to the rise in plantings, according to data from the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Early Bird Survey. This goes against the recent trend of greater spring cropping.

As a result, the Great Britain wheat area for harvest 2019, including spring wheat, is forecast to rise by 4% to 1.86 million hectares, which would be the largest since 2014.

The rise in plantings follows increases in the price of wheat in many parts of Europe, with UK milling wheat still up 19.7% year-on-year in November, at £181 a tonne [Mintec]. This contributed to wheat imports growing by almost 100% in July and August compared to the same period last year.

The winter barley area is expected to rise by 13% to 444,000 hectares (ha), while spring barley is predicted to fall 3% to 735,000ha, according to the Early Bird Survey.

Oat plantings, which were up in 2018, are expected to rise by another 9% for 2019. This means the total area of oats will have risen almost 50% since 2015.

The area of oilseed rape for harvest 2019 is expected to fall 3% to 582,000ha.

“Seed sales figures and anecdotal evidence suggest that the total planted area for oilseed rape was similar to – or even possibly higher than – last year, but dry conditions and cabbage stem flea beetle caused more crop losses than previous years, leading to an overall decline,” said AHDB analyst Daniel Rooney.

He added that, although the Early Bird Survey had a track record of accurate figures it was a snapshot at a given point in time and should be interpreted carefully.