Report shows summer heatwave’s impact on wheat and barley harvest

PUBLISHED: 16:29 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:46 12 October 2018

A combine harvester at work at Thrigby. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A combine harvester at work at Thrigby. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


The first official estimates for the 2018 cereals harvest show wheat production fell by 5.1pc in 2018 – and barley by 7.9pc – due to the hot, dry summer.

Defra’s initial figures, which are subject to revisions as further harvest results are received and analysed, give a provisional 2018 wheat harvest of 14.1 million tonnes for the UK, a decrease of 5.1pc from 2017 when the figure was 14.8m tonnes. It is below the five-year average of 14.8m tonnes.

Winter and spring barley also both saw decreased levels of production in 2018, with total barley production falling by 7.9pc to 6.6m tonnes in 2018.

A 7.7pc drop in spring barley to 3.9m tonnes, in spite of a small 1.1pc increase in the farmed area, was caused by an 8.7pc fall in the spring barley yield, says the report.

Meanwhile, winter barley production dropped by 8.0pc to 2.7m tonnes in 2018, attributed mostly to a 6.7% fall in the winter barley area, as well as a slightly lower yield of 6.9 tonnes per hectare in 2018 compared to 7.0 tonnes the previous year.

The combined total yield for barley was estimated at 5.7 tonnes per hectare for 2018, below the five-year average of 6.2 tonnes per hectare.

For oilseed rape, the provisional harvest was down 5.3pc to 2.1m tonnes in 2018, despite a 6.8pc increase in the planted area, as yields fell by 11.4pc, from 3.9 tonnes per hectare in 2017 to 3.4 tonnes per hectare in 2018.

Defra’s report says: “The 2018 harvest has been affected by the weather this year (high rainfall in spring and a long dry spell with high temperatures in the summer) causing varying yields across regions of the UK.”

The final results for the 2018 UK harvest are due to be published in December.

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