A Kynetec survey of agronomists* in the UK has revealed that an average of 31% drilled area for oilseed rape has been lost to flea beetle damage this season.
This amounts to 126,000 hectares of oilseed rape area already written off. Optimism about the future of oilseed rape is very low, with 59% of agronomists commenting there will be significant decline in the area of oilseed rape in the next one to two seasons, and 33% believing there will be slight decline.
The recent AHDB Early Bird Survey indicated a decline of 23% drilled oilseed rape area for the Harvest Year 2020, putting the UK area at 406,000 hectares. However, this did not account for the impact of flea beetle damage post drilling. With Kynetec’s latest data, this area would be reduced to just 280,000 hectares.
Spring barley and pulses are the most popular crops to replace this written off area, with 43% and 27% of the written off area going to these crops, respectively. This would take the UK spring barley area to 970,000 hectares, and the pulses area to 251,000 hectares.
These losses have impacted farms across the UK. The greatest losses of oilseed rape were felt in the South of England, with 41% of oilseed rape written off due to flea beetle damage, although crops in the East of England also suffered with 37% written off. The West and North of England suffered comparatively smaller losses, with 25% and 15% lost, respectively.
*Kynetec implemented a study of 78 agronomists in the UK to ascertain the percentage of oilseed rape area written off by flea beetle damage, what crops would replace the damaged crops, and agronomist’s perceptions of the future viability of oilseed rape in the UK. The agronomists surveyed influence 48,000 hectares of oilseed rape, accounting for around 12% of the UK’s total forecasted area for the 2020 season.