Barley is the predominant cereal crop grown in Scotland and, in 2015, contributed about a quarter of the UK barley production, particularly spring barley which accounted for almost 40 per cent of the UK total. Despite a strong association with the Scottish whisky industry, as a key ingredient, most Scottish barley is used as animal feed.
Spring Barley Estimates (charts 7 and 8)
Spring barley production is estimated to have fallen by 17 per cent in 2016. 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 has fallen, by 49,000 tonnes in 2014, a further 144,000 tonnes in 2015, and another 255,000 tonnes in 2016, to 1.27 million tonnes. This year's initial estimate is 26 per cent lower than the high of 2013, and would be the lowest production since 1998.
The area of spring barley varies considerably depending on the planting of winter crops, but in 2016 the figure of 239,000 hectares was the lowest since 2007. The average yield for spring barley in 2016 has been estimated at 5.3 tonnes per hectare, well down on last year's 5.9 and on the ten-year average of 5.7.
The longer term trend in yield is an increasing one, with the average over the most recent decade six per cent higher than over the previous 10 years.
Chart 7 - Spring Barley: Area, Yield and Production
Chart 8 - Spring Barley Year-on-Year Change: Area, Yield and Production
Winter Barley Estimates (charts 9 and 10)
2016 production is estimated to have decreased by 15 per cent to 345,000 tonnes. This year's estimated fall has been driven by an eight per cent fall in yield and a seven 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 five per cent higher than that of the previous decade. The average yield for winter barley in 2016 is estimated at 7.2 tonnes per hectare, lower than last year's 7.8 and slightly lower than the ten-year average of 7.3.
Chart 9 - Winter Barley: Area, Yield and Production
Chart 10 - Winter Barley Year-on-Year Change: Area, Yield and Production