The spotlight is on the poor condition of UK winter crops for harvest 2024, with production concerns increasing imports this season, according to AHDB’s latest report.

Confirming widespread poor condition of all winter crops, AHDB’s first crop development report of 2024 points to the worsening levels of high rainfall over winter across the country, particularly affecting growers in the East Midlands and nearby regions of the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber.

Notably, only 34% of GB winter wheat is rated as being in good or excellent condition as of late March, marking a significant drop from last year’s 90%.

READ MORE | UK's early potato planting already delayed by weeks

AHDB’s analysis suggests that wheat imports in 2023/24 could reach 2.00mil tonnes, indicating concerns over both the poor quality of the 2023 harvest and doubts about the 2024 harvest. Consequently, AHDB has increased its prediction of total season imports to 2.00mil tonnes, the highest level since 2020/21.

Despite the usual resilience of wheat, this year presents a major test due to the stress over winter. Winter barley and winter oat crops have also been significantly impacted, with only 38% and 37% respectively rated as good or excellent.

READ MORE | Farmers nationwide share weather and market impact insights

Winter oilseed rape crops suffered particularly, with only 31% rated as in good or excellent condition, having been 70% good-excellent last year, though slightly better than 2020 at 26%.

AHDB notes that spring crop planting remains severely delayed, with little understanding available at this stage. Further updates are expected in the next report at the end of April.