The area of oilseed rape planted in England and Scotland has increased for the first time in seven years - up 9% on last year.

The figures were released today as part of the findings of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) 2018 Planting and Variety Survey.

The survey of 6,832 farms also showed a continued trend for declining GB wheat area, but an increase in the area of spring barley.

Peter Collier, AHDB analyst, said: “The oilseed rape area, while showing a significant increase year-on-year, is still low in comparison to recent history.

The increased area for 2018 is arguably a reflection on how poor planting conditions were for harvest 2017.

“The continued trend for a declining GB wheat area, combined with lower stocks and the current dry conditions could leave the 2018/19 domestic supply tight once more.”

Oilseed rape

The oilseed rape area in England and Scotland has risen for the first time in seven years to an estimated 608,000ha.

However, the area is still well below the 2015 area and is still 19% (143,000ha) lower than the record set in 2012.

The year-on-year increase in planted area is likely a reflection of the better planting conditions for oilseed rape in autumn 2017, following the previous season’s prohibitively dry autumn conditions and cabbage stem flea beetle impact.

The significant area increases are in the Eastern and South-East English regions, which recorded particularly sharp declines in 2017.

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

However, across the previous five years, Wales has represented less than 1% of the British oilseed rape area.

Elgar, a variety recommended for the East and West regions in 2018, continues to represent the largest proportion of the oilseed rape area, rising to 14% of the English and Scottish area.

At 9%, Campus accounts for the second highest area, followed by DK Extrovert, with 8%.