Spring Planting and Variety Survey

08 July 2021
The Planting and Variety Survey provides the GB planted area estimates for the upcoming harvest. Broken down not only into crops but also by UK flour miller group and malting or non-malting approved feed barley.


  • GB wheat area is estimated at 1,742Kha, a 26% increase from 2020.

  • GB spring barley area is estimated at 769Kha, down 28% from 2020.

  • GB winter barley area is estimated at 350Kha, a 15% increase from 2020.

  • GB oilseed rape area is estimated at 322Kha, down 15% from 2020.

  • GB oat area is estimated at 211Kha, a 1% increase from 2020.

  • Skyfall is the most popular wheat variety with 12% of total wheat area.

  • Laureate is the most popular barley variety, accounting for 26% of total barley area.


Every region within GB for 2021 is forecast an increase in wheat area for this coming harvest.

The area year-on-year is estimated to increase 26%, putting the total GB area at 1,742Kha.

With Autumn weather in 2020 significantly improving year-on-year, growers have been able to plant just shy of the intended estimated forecast in our Early Bird Survey in December 2020.

The resurgence in wheat plantings has been at the expense of spring barley, which is down as growers switch back to winter cropping.

There has been a notable year-on-year increase in areas such as the East Midlands (+47%), Yorks & Humber (+25%), equating to an increase of 150Kha combined, which could limit gains in delivered premiums in the North despite the introduction of E10 blending mandates.

Further to that, a sizable increase in the South East (+39%) and South West (+27%), combined with fair crop conditions, is providing the potential for the UK to export wheat out of the south of England for the 2021/22 marketing year.

In terms of varieties, estimated areas for Group 1 and 2 varieties account for 44% of the 2021 GB wheat area, up three percentage points from last year.

Skyfall is once again the most popular variety at 12% of total area. However, Gleam is only slightly behind at 11% of total area.


The overall GB barley area is recorded at 1,119Kha, a decrease of 18% year-on-year. A sizable production in 2020 has meant that barley markets have maintained a large discount to wheat in the 2020/21 marketing year to be competitive.

With wheat prices gaining significantly over the last 12 months growers have chosen to switch largely back to wheat for harvest 2021 as sowing conditions allowed.

Overall, 58% of the total GB barley area is malting barley varieties with full approval from the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, a significant decrease from the 74% in 2020. This has happened because growers have turned away from spring barley.

Laureate is the most popular variety and accounts for 26% of total area, while RGT-Planet is second accounting for 20% of total area.

Winter Barley

The overall winter barley area for 2021 has increased by 15% year-on-year to 350Kha. Similar to wheat, the increase is driven by growers being able to plant their crop in the winter.

There has been a sizable increase in the East Midlands (+88%) with the estimated area at 46Kha. However, there has been marginal decrease in Scotland (-3%), North East and West (-8%) and South East (-12%) England.

Spring Barley

The spring barley area is recorded at 769Kha, decreasing by 28% on the year. The large reduction is due to growers turning back to winter wheat as sowing conditions improved significantly.

Due to these improved conditions spring barley area has recede back to levels recorded between 2017-2019.

Every region within GB is forecast a reduction year-on year. With the largest area reduction in Yorks & Humber (-42%) and the East Midlands (-49%) accounting for 127Kha of reduction combined. 

A marginal reduction is estimated in North & South Scotland with the combined area down 27Kha year-on-year. The total Scottish spring barley area for 2021 is estimated at 232Kha.


The area for oats in GB is estimated at 211Kha, a 1% increase year-on-year. Increased area of oats is limited this year after last year’s sizable increase which has pressured the market.

A significant reduction is estimated in the East Midlands (-22%) as growers in the region managed to sow their winter wheat for this year’s harvest.

The area in the Eastern region is set to increase (+28%) this year as growers turn away from alternative break crops such as oilseed rape (OSR) due to pest pressures. Furthermore, a decline (-13%) in spring barley area may too have contributed to this rise in oat area.

Oilseed Rape

The area for oilseed rape (OSR) in GB is estimated at 322Kha, down 15% year-on-year. Crop conditions last year of OSR were not ideal, which led to significant pest pressure and yields were down which meant growers turned away from planting this break crop.

The most notable area reduction is the Eastern (-34%) region and South East (-22%), equating to an area reduction of 39Kha, as this is the part of GB that the Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle is most prevalent.

Additional Information

  • The survey had 671 valid responses. Growers were asked to submit intended harvest areas and the area harvested last year. Data for this survey was collected during the months of April, May and June 2021.
  • Due to a low response rate, North East and North West along with West Midlands and Wales have been combined for all cereals and oilseed rape crops. In addition, North and South Scotland have been combined for oats and oilseed rape.
  • Percentage changes are based on comparisons to the Defra 2020 June Survey of Agriculture. Please note, that for oilseed rape Defra only produce winter crop areas for the English regions. Therefore, to enable a consistent comparison with Scottish results, the English spring oilseed rape area from harvest 2020 has been apportioned in the same ratio as the winter crops and included in the regional totals for harvest 2021.
  • Regional breakdowns are based on the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) regions.
  • Please note that totals may not agree due to rounding.
  • Like last year, the 2021 survey has been held entirely online. This was due to the working from home order imposed by the UK government to limit the spread of coronavirus. Due to working from home, the increased risk of handling personal data outside of our HQ meant that paper forms could not be used.

Historic Spring Planting and Variety Survey results


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