Strutt & Parker’s 2019 annual Harvest Yields Survey shows that yields were higher in 2019 for all the main crops, with the average winter wheat yield at 9.9 tonnes/hectare, 17 per cent higher than in 2018 and 7 per cent higher than the five-year average.
First-wheat yields were 4% higher than the five-year average at 10t/ha, with second wheats 15% better at an average of 9.8t/ha.
Winter barley also performed better than in 2018 with yields 14% higher at 8.8t/ha. Spring barley yields were up 23% on 2018 levels and 9% above the five-year average.
Winter oilseed rape averaged 3.4t/ha which is only 1% higher than in 2018 and 1% higher than the five-year average, with cabbage steam flea beetle (CSFB) infestations and a dry spring both impacting on yields.
The average spring bean yield was 3.8t/ha, 36% higher than the 2018 average, with winter beans also rising by 32% on the previous year. Rainfall in June was the crucial difference between the 2018 and 2019 crops, with the drought of 2018 causing a drastic reduction in yield.
First-wheat yields were 4 per cent higher than the five-year average at 10t/ha, with second wheats 15 per cent better at an average of 9.8t/ha.
The survey covers 110,600ha, spread over 137 farms mainly located in the East of England, Midlands and South East England.
Tom FitzGerald, Strutt & Parker consultant and agronomist, said: “2019 was a year characterised by good establishment of autumn crops, but with low winter rainfall. This meant that spring crops could be drilled far earlier than in 2018, which undoubtedly helped the uplift in yields.
“The wetter weather from the start of June helped to secure yields of most crops, although frequent rain events and showers during the harvest period did mean harvest was generally slow and many growers saw increased drying costs as a result.
“Looking at the crops in terms of their financial performance, the dry spring allowed many growers to reduce their fungicide spend on wheat crops considerably, relying more on varietal resistance than on chemistry. But despite this fall in variable costs and significantly higher yields, net margins are likely to be lower as a consequence of lower commodity prices than in 2018.”