Improvement in cereal harvest

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Figures published today show Scotland’s 2017 cereal harvest is estimated to have increased four per cent on the 2016 harvest. The latest data, released by the Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician, are on a par with the longer-trend ten-year average.

Scottish farms produced 2.9 million tonnes of cereals this year, including 1.8 million tonnes of barley and 900,000 tonnes of wheat.

This year’s increase in production is due to an eleven per cent increase in barley which offset a four per cent fall in wheat. The overall area of land sown has increased by one per cent, with 433,000 hectares of cereal grown in 2017. Overall yields averaged around 6.6 tonnes per hectare; ranging from 5.7 tonnes per hectare for oats to 8.1 for wheat.

Spring barley, Scotland’s most important cereal crop, increased by 0.14 million tonnes to 1.43 million tonnes, but was still below the ten-year average. Winter barley likewise saw a seven per cent increase of 23,000 tonnes to 352,000 tonnes, but the wheat harvest has dropped since 2016 by 37,000 tonnes to 889,000 tonnes. Oats also saw a fall, with an eight per cent drop to 185,000 tonnes, though this was still the third highest in the last decade.

Oilseed rape yields have performed above the longer-term trend, averaging around 4.2 tonnes per hectare with a total production of 144,000 tonnes.                                                                                              

Those farms that harvested early were able to benefit from the higher yields resulting from the wet summer. This was particularly true for barley. Those harvesting later found it increasingly difficult to find a window of a few good days to dry out the crop and get the combine into the fields. This meant that often substantial amounts of crop were lost.

This differing experience also explains why the final results are lower than those originally estimated at the start of October. At the time of the discussions which produced the initial estimates, those cereal farmers normally harvesting in August and September had been affected by the wet weather, but they had nevertheless been able to get the harvest in.

These results, are based on data from 386 cereal farms across Scotland. The initial results, are based on data from over 250 farms.

The figures released today were produced by independent statistical staff in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


The figures are produced by the Scottish Government. “National Statistics” relates to the designation of the statistics; it does not mean they are produced by the Office for National Statistics.

Initial estimates published early in October were seven per cent higher than these final estimates. Initial estimates were based on discussions with industry experts, who themselves had collected data from over 250 farms.

The full statistical publication is available at

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“National Statistics” are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:

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