BLOG: By David Whyte - Flea Beetle & Drought Drive Down OSR Area and Production

Posted: 14 Nov

By David Whyte, Commodity Trader, United Oilseeds

According to our own survey among United Oilseeds members, the UK area planted to rapeseed in autumn 2018 was down just 0.9% on the previous year, from 602,783 hectares to 597,358 hectares.

However, whilst this may appear relatively insignificant, the actual reality of the situation is rather more dramatic.

Based on our survey, we estimate the actual OSR crop left in the ground for harvest 2019 is actually down 10.81 %, from the 602,783  hectares drilled in 2017, to 537,623 hectares. This is as a result of the impact of high Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle pressure and drought conditions over the summer.

Regions that have previously experienced only light flea beetle pressure in the past suffered quite badly this year.  The dry conditions further exacerbated the problem. 

Meanwhile, average yields for UK OSR harvested in 2018 were down 12.57% to 3.29 tonnes per hectare.  Consequently, we estimate that the 2019 harvested UK rapeseed crop will produce 1.88 million tonnes, down from 2018’s production figure  of 1.98 million tonnes, assuming the average yields next autumn match the five-year OSR yield average of 3.5 tonnes per hectare.

Whatever the yields eventually prove to be, it is quite clear that the effects of cabbage stem flea beetle and the prolonged dry conditions we experienced this summer will have a significant negative effect on the size of the UK’s oilseed rape harvest in 2019.  But, should yields fall below the five year average of 3.5 tonnes per hectare, then the UK production would fall still further!                                                                                                            

However, looking on the positive side, whilst this will mean a lower overall production figure, a shortfall in rapeseed supply may prove to be a bullish driver for OSR market prices. 

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