Updates about the Horticulture Wales project, along with industry news and opinion.

Market Analysis: Horticultural Hectares In Wales

12 December 2013

The total area of land used for horticulture in Wales fell by 5% over the past year, the first drop in five years, according to an annual analysis by the Welsh Government.

One of the main sources of information about horticulture in Wales is the annual ‘June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture’. Late last month, the Welsh Government published the initial results from its most recent survey, which was carried out in June 2013. The study asks a sample of holdings about land usage, livestock numbers, and agricultural labour, and makes estimates for the whole of Wales based on this sample. While it is well-recognised that the true level of horticultural activity in Wales is under-represented in the research, it does nonetheless provide an indication of levels of activity which can be compared year-on-year.

Compared to last year’s statistics, there was a decrease of more than 4,800 hectares in the total agricultural land used for crops, horticulture, and bare fallow, as well as a decrease of 4,900 hectares in land used for grazing.  Although there was a small increase in the area of land used for woodland, overall the total agricultural land area in Wales fell by more than 9,000 hectares in the past 12 months. Crops used for stock-feeding more than doubled in 2013 to 19,400 hectares, potentially as a consequence of the poor weather at the start of the year, which meant that many wheat and barley crops were used for stock-feed instead.

Looking in more detail at horticultural crops specifically, the area of land used in 2013 fell 5% to an estimated 1,449 hectares, down from 1,525 hectares the previous year. It is worth emphasising that as many smaller producers and growers are not actually included in the survey sample, this figure is likely to underestimate the actual area of land used for horticulture in Wales. 

However, the year-on-year figures do show that horticultural land use fell for the first time since 2008. These figures actually mirror those for the UK as a whole and have been attributed to the poor weather earlier in the year preventing the planting of crops due to water logged fields.

MA Crops 1998 to 2013 (592px * 368px)The land dedicated to orchards and small fruit, and crops grown in glasshouses fell by 10 and 11% respectively during the past year, along with a 7% drop-off in the amount of land used for vegetables and salads grown in the open, although hardy crop area actually increased by just over 5% (297 hectares in 2013 MA Crops 2010 to 2013 (592px * 402px)compared to 281 in 2012).

Vegetables and salad grown in the open account for 28% of the total horticulture land area in Wales, with orchards and small fruit, and commercial orchards representing 24% and 25% respectively.

MA Crops by percentage (511px * 368px)

Source: Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture: Results for Wales, June 2013

Signup to our newsletter: