A survey has shown that wheat levels are up 22% on last year’s plummeting decrease, as anticpated by British Baker last month.

The data, from AHDB/HGCA, suggested that at an area of 1.96Mha, wheat planting levels supported a potential UK return to export markets this season. However, this depends on final yields and quality.

While this increase is encouraging, it is still below harvests from two years ago. There were also smaller increases in the Eastern and East Midlands regions, which, the development board suggested, were due to an increase in spring cropping.

For wheat varieties, the proportion of nabim group 4 continued to increase, while DK-Cabernet remained the most widely grown rapeseed variety for the fourth year in a row.

Helen Plant, AHDB/HGCA senior analyst, said: “This increase [of nabim group 4] comes at the expense of nabim group 2 and 3 varieties, which have seen lower premiums over the past season. Nabim Group 1 varieties regained area lost due the wet autumn of 2012, accounting for approximately 17% of the area, similar to 2011 and 2012.”

Lower regional premiums likely

The report also revealed that the wheat area had increased by 25% in Scotland, which is likely to result in lower regional premiums than the past two years.

Plant said: “Generally favourable conditions in the autumn of 2013 supported a return to more typical levels of winter crop plantings, following the extremely challenging conditions a year earlier. As generally expected, this has led to a decline in the level of spring cropping.

"However, it is also worth noting that, for some growers, the impact of the extreme 2012 and 2013 seasons continues, because the forced changes to cropping patterns have rotational implications.”

The total area of GB planted cereals and oilseed rape for this year’s harvest was also up 6% from 2013, but total barley plantings were down 8% at 1.09Mha.