Mixed fortunes as NI crop yields and production estimates published

Yield and production estimates for the main cereal crops and potatoes in Northern Ireland show barley in the region bucked the UK trend, while oat yields fell to their lowest since 2013.

Provisional results from Defra show that total UK yields of barley, wheat and oats have all decreased compared with 2017.

However, estimates for Northern Ireland by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) showed that both spring barley and winter barley yields recovered from the low levels recorded in 2017.

The estimates for cereal yields were obtained from a post-harvest survey of 235 growers, whilst potato estimates were derived from a survey involving pre-harvest digs covering potato crops on approximately 75 farms.

Estimates for the areas of each crop were published as part of the results of the June Agricultural Census on November 29, 2018.

The following estimates refer to crop yields and production.

Barley

Total production of barley increased marginally to approximately 117,200t, an increase of 2%. Both spring barley and winter barley yields recovered from the low levels recorded in 2017.

In 2017, the spring barley yield was at its lowest level recorded since 2012 but has now recovered to approximately the five-year average of 5.2t/ha.

Winter Barley yields made a modest recovery of 2% resulting in a yield of 6.9t/ha. The overall area planted decreased by 2% from 2017 levels, with the area of winter crops decreasing by 18% and the area of spring crops increasing by 6%.

The area planted of winter barley was hindered by the poor planting conditions in autumn 2017. Despite the reduction in the area of barley planted, the higher yields have resulted in a 2% increase in production.

Cropping conditions were a lot more favourable in 2018 than 2017 which will have increased the harvest.

Wheat

Production of wheat decreased from 2017 levels to 47,700t, a decrease of 29%. The area grew fell by 22% to 6,800ha with yields falling by 9% to the same level as 2016.

The area of winter planting fell due to the difficult conditions in autumn 2017 while yields suffered because of the dry summer experienced in Northern Ireland.

Oats

As with wheat, both oat yields and area planted decreased in 2018. Oat yields decreased by 10% to 5t/ha in 2018, the lowest they have been since 2013.

The total area of oats planted decreased by 11% resulting in a decrease in production of 20% to 10,200t in 2018.

Potatoes

The pre-harvest production estimate of maincrop ware and seed potatoes is 114,700t, a 25% decrease from 2017. In 2018 the area planted decreased by 11% to 3,600ha with yields decreasing by 16%.

The total pre-harvest estimate, including early varieties, also decreased by 25% to 116,100t.