UK oilseed rape yields and crop area have declined dramatically after a year of extreme weather and uncontrollable crop decimation caused by the cabbage stem flea beetle, new figures show.
The crop – a key ingredient for many products, from rapeseed oil and margarines to mayonnaise and salad dressings – has seen an 18%-26% drop in yield against the five-year average ….
It comes with the crop’s planted area at its lowest levels since 2002, and follows industry warnings farmers are moving away from the crop “in droves”. Analysis of satellite data by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology …. found the 2020 planting area was down by 38% against the five-year average.
While the extreme weather in 2020 …. has had a big impact on this year’s domestic crop, UK oilseed rape growing has been particularly affected by the cabbage stem flea beetle since an EU ban on the use of neonicotinoids came into force in 2018 …. “We’re seeing a transition from UK vegetable oil production to an increase in imports,” said AHDB senior analyst, James Webster ….
“This a serious concern [said NFU crops board chairman Matt Culley] …. if we continue down the track of becoming reliant on OSR imports …. [W]e need our government to ensure that the end of the [Brexit] transition will not signal the opening of the floodgates to even more food that has been grown using products that are illegal in the UK.”