The UK is heading for a smaller wheat, barley and oat harvest this year, according to estimates from Agrimetrics.
The body, one of four centres for agricultural innovation in the UK, predicts wheat, barley and oat yields will decrease by 12%, 5% and 5% respectively this year.
Using artifical intelligence (AI) technology capable of identifying crops using satellite observations, Agrimetrics calculated the amount of winter crops growing in a sample of UK fields and compared this to levels from 2017 and 2019.
“We’ve discovered that there is 61% less winter wheat growing in the UK versus last year and there was 45% less winter barley,” said Agrimetrics’ chief scientific officer Professor Richard Tiffin.
He said the average difference in yields between winter and spring-sown crops were then used to estimate a difference in yield at harvest due to the move away from winter cropping following a wash-out autumn.
Prof Tiffin said the projected reduction in yields was significant enough to impact the UK’s domestic food supply and in particular the supply of milling wheat.
He added: “A total of 80% of the grain used by UK millers comes from UK farms – and 95% of that is winter wheat. Millers are going to have to look to overseas suppliers, which isn’t ideal in the climate.”