Rapeseed plantings are on the rise in the UK, a much-watched survey shows, tallying with comments from Origin Enterprises that plantings had "advanced well" ahead of the 2018 harvest.
The AHDB’s Early Bird Survey, undertaken by the Andersons Centre, estimated at 9% to 616,000 hectares the increase in rapeseed plantings ahead of the 2018 harvest.
That follows five consecutive years of decline, although remains well below the record 2012 area of 756,000 hectares.
The survey attributes this recovery to better conditions so far this year.
"The autumn 2017 establishment period was much more favourable than that of 2016, with higher moisture and less flea beetle damage, when rapeseed had relatively high crop failure rates,” the survey said.
Better prices compared to other crops also encouraged rapeseed planting.
"In some cases, it will have been the most profitable crop for 2017, therefore potentially influencing areas for 2018.”
‘Squeeze on the wheat area’
The extra area is seen coming in part at the expense of other crops, with sowings of the likes of wheat seen falling.
Daniel Rooney, an analyst for AHDB, said "this means we are seeing a continued squeeze on the wheat area as well as our ongoing love-affair with spring barley".
The survey estimates a 2% drop in the wheat area – spring and winter crop combined - down to a five-year low of 1.75m hectares from 1.79 hectares last year.
Winter barley is also estimated lower by 9% to 388,000 hectares, though spring barley is forecast up by 3% to 773,000 hectares.
AHDB sounded a note of caution that the final decision on some crops might not be confirmed until spring.
Further details from AHDB will be released in December when the final results and more regional information become available.