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Cereal Harvest Summary

Final estimates of the cereal and oilseed rape harvest 2016

These estimates indicate that, compared with final estimates from the 2015 harvest:

  • Spring barley production decreased by 15 per cent to 1.3 million tonnes due to a seven per cent decrease in planted area and a nine per cent decrease in the average yield.
  • Winter barley production fell by 19 per cent to 329,000 tonnes due to a seven per cent reduction in area and a 13 per cent reduction in average yield.
  • Wheat production decreased by nine per cent to 926,000 tonnes due to a nine per cent decrease in yield. Planted area remained unchanged.
  • Oat production increased by 33 per cent to 201,000 tonnes due to a 22 per cent increase in area and a nine per cent increase in yield.
  • Oilseed rape production fell by 31 per cent to 102,000 tonnes due to a 14 per cent decrease in area and a 20 per cent fall in yield.


Total cereal production in Scotland is estimated to have fallen in 2016 by 348,000 tonnes to 2.75 million tonnes. With the exception of the weather-hit 2012 harvest, this is the lowest since 2007. While the volume of the harvest was poorer than expected, industry experts collecting data have reported no particular concerns over quality.

In 2015 cereals were estimated to have accounted for about 11 per cent of farm output.


The total cereal area fell three per cent compared to 2015. About 428,000 hectares of cereals were grown in 2015/16. Areas have ranged between 398,000 hectares in 2006 and 476,000 hectares in 1997.


Yields for spring barley and oilseed rape have been revised upwards since the release of early estimates in early October, and for winter barely, wheat and oats have been revised downwards, resulting in equivalent changes in production.

  • Overall cereal production is estimated at 2.75 million tonnes; 21,000 tonnes or 0.8 per cent below provisional estimates.
  • The estimated decrease in production of spring barley (down 15 per cent) is less than suggested by provisional estimates (17 per cent).
  • Winter barley production was expected to fall by 61,000 tonnes, but has instead fallen by 77,000 tonnes compared to 2015.
  • Wheat has fallen much more than expected, down 9.1 per cent rather than the 6.5 per cent initially estimated.
  • Oats had a slightly smaller increase than expected, and oilseed a slightly smaller reduction.

Overall, in the past the difference between provisional and final estimates has been typically around five per cent or lower. Chart C shows the differences in yields between the two estimates over the last ten years. Yield estimates of individual cereal crops do sometimes vary by more than five per cent.

This year the revision to overall cereal yield was 0.8 per cent. In most years, the largest differences between provisional and final production estimates are for oats, with the largest difference being 17 per cent in 2012. This year the largest difference was for winter barley at 4.7 per cent.

There was no one explanation for why the 2016 harvest was relatively poor. There was a three per cent reduction in the overall sown area. High winds spoilt the oilseed harvest, but there were no particular meteorological issues affecting the cereals. There was less than ideal weather at several stages of the cycle, and the relatively wet weather last winter possibly meant the seed beds were less than ideal. A low expectation of price may have led some farmers to reduce inputs, but the lack of warmth and sunlight during the summer meant that this yielded smaller grain.

Global supply of cereals is set to surpass 2.5 billion tonnes for the first time, according to a report by the International Grains Council, a result that comes despite a decline in EU soft wheat production due to poor weather.

Main Findings


Full National Statistics Release

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