Spring Planting and Variety Survey

08 July 2020
The Planting and Variety Survey provides the GB planted area estimates for the upcoming harvest. Broken down not only into crops but also by nabim group and malting or non-malting approved feed barley.


  • GB wheat area is estimated at 1,363Kha, a 25% decrease from 2019.
  • GB spring barley area is estimated at 1,063Kha, up 52% from 2019.
  • GB winter barley area is estimated at 296Kha, a 34% decrease from 2019.
  • Area of oilseed rape in England and Scotland is estimated at 387Kha, down 26% from 2019.
  • Area of oats in England and Scotland is estimated at 211Kha, a 21% increase from 2019.
  • Skyfall is the most popular wheat variety with 10% of area.
  • RGT-Planet is the most popular barley variety, accounting for 28% of total area.


As anticipated, every single region within GB recorded a decrease in wheat area. Nationally we are recording a year-on-year reduction of 25%, putting the GB area of wheat at 1,363Kha.

The challenging weather played a major part in this reduction. Persistent rain throughout autumn and winter altered many growers’ intentions, with them switching to plant spring crops when unable to get their winter crops drilled. In areas such as the East Midlands there has been a large shift to spring wheat plantings, for this harvest spring wheat accounts for 34% of wheat plantings, up from 4% last year.

There have been significant decreases in area recorded in the East Midlands (-32%) and Yorks & Humber (-32%), equating to a reduction in area of 180Kha. Going into the next marketing year, this could pose support for delivered premiums in the North, as more grain will have to be sourced from the East.

In terms of varieties, estimated areas for nabim Group 1 and 2 varieties account for 41% of the 2020 GB wheat area, up five percentage points from last year. Skyfall has been the most popular variety, due to its late planting capabilities.

Group 4 variety Graham is down to 6% for 2020, as Group 4 Gleam and Group 1 KWS-Zyatt increase their share.

Group 4 varieties accounts for 39% of total wheat area, down from 42% last year. The area reduction has been driven by significant decreases in the East (-26Kha), East Midlands (-85Kha) and Yorks & Humber (-61Kha).


The overall GB barley area is recorded at 1,358Kha, an increase of 19% year-on-year. With plentiful production in 2019, from a market perspective the cropping area for barley should have reduced. Why? Throughout the 2019/20 marketing year, barley has been maintained a significant discount to wheat making it economically less attractive.

Nevertheless, the challenging autumn drilling meant that many growers shifted their intentions to planting spring barley. However, barley yields for 2020 may be compromised, from increased spring cropping and a very dry spring.

Overall, 74% of the total GB barley area is malting barley varieties with full approval from the Institute of Brewing & Distilling for harvest 2020, a significant increase from the 56% in 2019. RGT-Planet (28%) and Laureate (25%) account for 53% of the total barley area, up from 36% in 2019.

Winter Barley

The overall winter barley area for 2020 has reduced by 34% year-on-year to 296Kha. Similar to winter wheat, the weather posed significant challenges whilst drilling and after November much winter barley wouldn’t have been drilled.

There has been a sizeable area reduction in Yorks & Humber (-37%) and East Midlands (-52%), two regions that were especially impacted from the excessive precipitation.

Spring Barley

The spring barley area is recorded at 1,063Kha, increasing by 52% on the year. The most notable rise has been in England (+76%). A lack of winter drilling of both wheat and barley led to spring barley as the most viable option for many growers.

Aside from the poor weather conditions, spring cropping is often used as a cultural control for black grass.


England and Scotland’s oat area for 2020, is predicted to be 211Kha. With Scotland slightly reducing their area (-2%), England accounts for an increase of 26%. There has been a significant area increase in the East Midlands (+10Kha), South East (+9Kha) and West Midlands (+6Kha).

From the Early Bird Survey data, we know that a lot of intended oat plantings were scheduled for the spring, again as an alternative to the lack of winter drilling or replacement of OSR.

Due to a low Welsh survey response rate for oats, the AHDB is unable to provide an area for Wales and therefore GB.

Oilseed Rape

With dryness during planting and excessive autumn rain, coupled with cabbage steam flea beetle (CSFB) damage, there has been a drastic reduction in OSR in England for 2020. The area in now recorded at 355Kha, down 28% year-on-year. This will be the lowest recorded area in England since 2002.

There has been a significant drop in large OSR areas such as the East Midlands (-35%) and the East (-28%); this is a reduction of 74Kha just in these two regions alone. It appears the damage from the CSFB could be spreading west and heading northwards. Although currently, Yorks & Humber, the North and Scotland (32Kha, up 2% year-on-year) have seen very minimal year-on-year reduction.

The latest AHDB crop condition report highlighted that 41% of total winter OSR is rated either ‘very poor’ (15%) or ‘poor’ (26%) meaning high, or extreme risk of yield loss... So, the question remains, how much of this years reduced area will provide a viable harvested crop?

The current OSR condition could pose a significant reduction in regional yields, resulting in a sizeable decrease in production. Combining all these challenging factors, we could see the lowest OSR production this millennium.

Additional Information

  • The survey had 1042 responses from a sample provided by AHDB, Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government. Growers were asked to submit intended harvest areas and the area harvested last year. Data for this survey was collected during the months of May and June 2020.
  • Due to a low response rate from Wales, the Welsh oilseed rape and oats figures are not available for individual publication. North East and North West barley and oilseed rape area figures have also been combined.
  • Percentage changes are based on comparisons to the Defra 2019 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 2019 has been apportioned in the same ratio as the winter crops and included in the regional totals for harvest 2020.
  • Regional breakdowns are based on the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) regions.
  • Please note that totals may not agree due to rounding.
  • For the first time, the 2020 survey has been held entirely online. This was due to the national lockdown from March 23rd imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus. In order to reduce the risk of transmission and reduce the burden on postal services no paper forms were used this year. Due to AHDB offices being closed throughout the lockdown, 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