A SIGNIFICANT decline in this autumn’s planting of cereals and oilseeds has been forecast.

The annual AHDB/HGCA early bird survey of cropping intentions, conducted by Andersons and AICC, aims to set the scene for harvest 2013.

The findings are based on anecdotal evidence from agronomists responsible for nearly 240,000 hectares of arable land across England and Scotland.

It concerns crops already in the ground – regardless of establishment conditions – coupled with planting intentions, should weather permit.

They show anticipated planting areas to be down 12 per cent to 1.76m/ha for winter wheat; nine per cent to 385,000ha for winter barley; and three per cent to 732,000ha for oilseed rape.

The late harvest combined with drilling difficulties due to heavy rain and poor soil conditions are the main causes.

As a result, the national spring barley crop area is projected to rise by 40 per cent to 865,000ha.

Jack Watts, AHDB/HGCA senior analyst, stressed the findings needed to be put into context and treated as a very early snapshot for the 2013 harvest.

He said: “There are a number of critical factors yet to determine final harvest areas, including seed availability for spring crops, pest damage, waterlogging, non-germination or emergence issues and weather conditions over the winter.

“As these play out over the coming months, the area harvested next year may well differ from these initial estimates.”

Graham Redman, from Andersons, said: “Some of this planted land will probably not make it to harvest as it will be written off and the extreme heavy rain of recent days in some regions means some of the intended land might not be drilled.”