UK farmers' exit from rapeseed sowings was far more dramatic
than a shown in a much-watched report from the AHDB bureau, according to data
from Origin Enterprises – with Romanian growers now planting more.
Origin Enterprises, the owner of the Agrii agronomy chain,
estimated winter sowings of rapeseed in the UK, historically the European Union's
third-ranked grower of the oilseed, at about 500,000 hectares.
This "represents a reduction of approximately 10% on last
year", Origin Enterprises said.
That is a far bigger drop than indicated by data on Wednesday
from the AHDB bureau, which showed area falling by some 1% - albeit only for
England and Wales, which account for some 94% of UK sowings..
However, the Origin Enterprises figure is more in line with market
ideas of a sharper drop in UK rapeseed sowings – and may even exceed them.
Traders at a major European commodities house said that "the
trade estimates winter plantings may be down closer to 5%".
Origin Enterprises attributed the extent of the decline in UK
winter rapeseed area to "largely… to agronomic and rotational crop planning
decisions" by growers.
Farmers have been deterred from sowing the oilseed by heavy
losses in many areas to cabbage stem flea beetle, following the introduction of
EU curbs on neonicotinoid insecticides.
However, while the AHDB acknowledged a slump in rapeseed's
popularity in eastern England "likely due to production pressures, including
the potential risk from cabbage stem flea beetle", it added that in other
regions the oilseed "still seems to remain the break crop of choice".
Higher prices - boosted by three successive years of
decreasing world production, on top the decline in UK output - at the time of winter
crop plantings had "perhaps" boosted area, the bureau said.
Romania overtakes UK
Still, on either set of data, the UK is now, according to Origin
Enterprises, a smaller grower of rapeseed in area terms than Romania, where growers
hiked sowings of rapeseed despite weather delays to plantings – a factor which
is especially important for the oilseed, which has an early sowings window.
Romania's "total oilseed rape plantings are estimated at
600,000 hectares, compared with 380,000 hectares for the comparative period"
last year, said the group, which also runs agronomy chains in eastern Europe,
Rapeseed has led a rise of some 50,000 hectares to 3.30m
hectares Romania's winter sowings of major crops overall, the company said.
In the UK, Origin Enterprises put total sowings of the major
winter crops at 2.95m hectares, little changed year on year, with winter wheat
area seen 1.4% higher at 1.85m hectares.
The AHDB, whose data were taken as of December 1, estimated English
and Welsh winter wheat area - which, again, account for the vast majority of
the UK total – falling 5% to 1.61m hectares.
Origin Enterprises added that establishment of Romania's
winter crops had been "generally satisfactory" despite the weather delays to
In Poland - where the group reported winter sowings at 5.3m
hectares, little changed year on year – there were "no significant establishment
issues arising at this stage".
In Ukraine, the group supported ideas of strong winter crop
prospects, estimating plantings at 7.6m hectares, a rise of 1.8m hectares year
on year, and saying that crops "are generally well established and in good
However, the data imply less area available for spring
crops, such as corn of which Ukraine is a major exporter, with total sowings
for this year seen stable year on year at 22.0m hectares.