Despite serious pest concerns and a significant shift towards spring cropping in many rotations, British winter OSR plantings are set to stabilise this autumn, reveals the latest planting intentions survey undertaken by Independent Business Resource this summer.
The survey, commissioned by Monsanto, involved late May and early June interviews with some 200 growers carefully selected as representative of the country’s oilseed rape producers. It suggests national plantings will fall for the fifth year in succession but by only around half last season’s 66,000 ha reduction and quite possibly much less.
Of the vast majority of growers sure about their 2016/17 plantings, the 30% planning to decrease their winter rape area is almost exactly balanced by 28% planning to increase it, with 42% intending to plant the same as they did in 2015/16.
Unsurprisingly perhaps given the focus of recent flea beetle problems, plantings in the Eastern Counties and East Midlands look set to fall noticeably. In contrast, however, those in the North East, West Midlands and South East are likely to increase.
“Overall, the IBR survey puts next season’s winter OSR area at around 550,000 ha,” reports Monsanto seeds and traits marketing manager, Deryn Gilbey. “The fact that last year’s study predicted plantings well within 1.0% of the 583,000 ha Kleffmann panel outcome gives us particular confidence in this figure.
“Of course, the recent lack of success in achieving a derogation for any neonicotinoid seed dressing this autumn will undoubtedly depress sentiments in some areas. However, the survey was conducted after the first of this season’s applications were rejected by Defra, suggesting expectations will not have been particularly high in this context.
“At the same time, oilseed rape market sentiments have improved markedly over the summer and historical analyses show a clear link between market values in the run-up to harvest and plantings for the following season, Deryn Gilbey pointed out.
“Indeed, recent AHDB 2017 projections show a 3.65 t/ha crop of winter OSR at a November 2017 ex-farm value of £298/t (including oil bonus) delivering the third highest gross margin of the 12 main winter and spring crops examined at £661/ha. This is within a whisker of the margin for a 9.05 t/ha first feed wheat at £121/t, almost £150/t up on winter malting barley at £124/t and £89/ha better than the next most profitable cereal break, winter linseed at £325/t.
“So, given favourable sowing conditions, we could well see an area nearer 570,000 ha in the ground for 2017.
“In any event, the decline in the national winter OSR area we’ve seen since its 700,000+ ha peak in 2011/12 looks to be bottoming out at more sustainable level for most rotations as the market stabilises at a level offering reasonable margin prospects for even the average crop.”