2018 was one of the most challenging for farming in the UK for a number of years, with many comparing it to the exceptionally dry harvest of 1976! Spring cereals were already at a disadvantage with many being drilled in April and May and the very low rainfall resulted in severely stunted growth and very poor tillering. This in turn has led to poor grain yields at harvest which has affected seed availability for Spring 2019.
Autumn sown crops were luckily less effected, particularly those which were drilled early onto medium to heavy bodied land. However, the later drilled spring sown crops were more vulnerable due to poorer root development and yields were reduced simply through lack of moisture. There were some growers who drilled Spring barley in November time although not advised (due to the frost susceptibility), yields fared extremely well. It does however show how under stressful conditions well established plants can fare significantly better.
Although conditions in the Autumn have been favourable which has allowed for later drilling, the Spring acreage will still be significant due to factors such as grass weeds and just generally with the flexibility they provide in a rotation.
We would recommend that any grower looking at planting Spring Cereals would be well placed to do this as soon as possible so as to not be disappointed on variety choice.
To order call you regional Arable Specialist or the Seed Team on 01939 210777 (Shropshire) or 01757 617000 (Yorkshire).