Barley is the predominant cereal crop grown in Scotland, contributing about a quarter of the UK barley production, particularly spring barley which accounted for about a third of the UK total. Despite a strong association with the Scottish whisky industry, as a key ingredient, Scottish barley is also used as animal feed.
Spring Barley Estimates (charts 9 and 10)
Spring barley production is estimated to have increased by ten per cent in 2017. Over the last 20 years, spring barley production has been following a generally increasing trend. Production reached the highest level over the period in 2013, at 1.71 million tonnes. However, in the last three years spring barley production had been falling each year, by 49,000 tonnes in 2014, a further 144,000 tonnes in 2015, and another 224,000 tonnes in 2016, to 1.30 million tonnes. This year's estimate of 1,433,000 tonnes is 11 per cent higher than 2016, but is still below average for the last decade.
The area of spring barley varies considerably depending on the planting of winter crops, but in 2017 the figure of 244,000 hectares was below average. The average yield for spring barley in 2017 has been estimated at 5.9 tonnes per hectare, the fifth highest on record.
Changes in spring barley production between 2016 and 2017
The longer term trend in yield is an increasing one, with the average over the most recent decade five per cent higher than over the previous 10 years.
Chart 9 - Spring Barley: Area, Yield and Production
Chart 10 - Spring Barley Year-on-Year Change: Area, Yield and Production
Winter Barley Estimates (charts 11 and 12)
2017 production is estimated to have increased by seven per cent to 352,000 tonnes. This year's estimated increase has been driven by an eight per cent increase in yield, with a one per cent reduction in area.
Winter barley yields have fluctuated considerably in recent years, often affected by the weather. However, the recent ten-year average is three per cent higher than that of the previous decade. The average yield for winter barley in 2017 is estimated at 7.4 tonnes per hectare, above average for the last ten years.
Chart 11 - Winter Barley: Area, Yield and Production
Chart 12 - Winter Barley Year-on-Year Change: Area, Yield and Production