There are fears for the future of oilseed rape in the UK, after the latest AHDB harvest report showed it could be the smallest crop since 2014.
Growers have faced major challenges from cabbage stem flea beetle following the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments.
AHDB revealed this year’s crop would be between 1.5-1.7 million tonnes, down 16-23 per cent year on year with harvest 95 per cent complete.
Lincolnshire grower Andrew Ward said he feared the future of OSR in the UK was ‘severely under threat’ because of the pressure the industry had come under from the loss of neonicotinoids.
“We are having to try and farm with our hands tied behind our backs,” he said.
He said they had chopped their area down to about 28-hectares (70 acres) for next year’s harvest.
“We drilled for harvest 2019, 210ha but pulled out 83ha because of the flea beetle. We are already having a reduced area.”
And he added other farmers he spoke to were doing exactly the same.
His average yields were also the lowest they had ever been since starting growing OSR in 1984. With the UK now likely to look to imports, Mr Ward said the industry needed a level playing field with competitors in Europe.
“We will be importing food grown with products we are not allowed to use. Morally it is not right,” he said.
“We do not have a Government which understands or supports agriculture.”
EU rapeseed futures prices were trading at fresh contract highs last week amid a reduced 2019 EU crop, which would require ‘record imports’ according to CRM AgriCommodities James Bolesworth.
Rapeseed oil prices were at their highest level in Rotterdam since November 2017.
Mr Bolesworth said: “The latter is also attributed to the recent EU decision to increase tariffs on Indonesian palm oil.”
He said as of August 11, European rapeseed imports were 13 per cent higher year on year at 227,000t, with the busiest months of the import season approaching in September and October.