Scottish Winter-Wheat Area Plunges After Rain Prevented Sowing

Scotland’s winter-wheat area may be the smallest in at least a decade after wet weather prevented planting last year, the government said.

Winter wheat was sown on 84,070 hectares (207,740 acres) as of Dec. 1, down 15 percent from a year earlier and the smallest area since at least 2002, the Scottish government said today in an online report. The total area planted with winter crops shrank less, declining 5 percent to 180,000 hectares, as barley and oat sowing climbed.

The U.K. had its second-wettest year on record in 2012, according to the Met Office, the national weather forecaster. Eastern Scotland received the most rainfall for the month of December since 1929.

“The 2012 harvest was delayed and some farmers had difficulties in sowing winter crops for the 2013 harvest” because of the wet conditions, the government said. “Wheat displayed the greatest change of all of the winter crops.”

Winter rapeseed was sown on 35,045 hectares, 1.7 percent less than a year earlier, the report showed.

Excess rain also cut Scottish production of livestock feed, reducing hay output by 31 percent to a record low of 179,750 metric tons, according to the report. Scotland’s cattle herd fell 0.5 percent to 1.72 million head, while the number of sheep increased for the first time since 2004, rising 4.4 percent to 4.66 million head.

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