LONDON, ENGLAND — After a 40-year low in wheat production, the United Kingdom (UK) is projected to sharply increase its wheat output in the 2021-22 marketing year to 14.75 million tonnes, up 5 million tonnes from the previous year, according to an April 21 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The total wheat area is forecast to increase nearly 400,000 hectares in 2021-22,” the USDA said. “Fall planting conditions were much improved on those for the 2020 harvest and growers have returned to cropping more winter wheat, following a significant switch to spring crops, mainly barley, in 2020-21.”

As result, barley production is projected to decline from 8.1 million tonnes a year ago to 7.2 million tonnes in 2021-22.

Total UK grain production, which includes wheat, barley, oats and mixed grains, is forecast at 23.1 million tonnes, 4 million tonnes higher than the previous year but about 1.7 million tonnes below the 2019-20 level.

The USDA said last year’s poor wheat crop has led to increased incorporation of barley in the country’s feed rations and increased imports for corn for use in the biofuel sector in 2020-21. However, projected feed and residual use of wheat is projected to reach 7.55 million tonnes in 2021-22, up from 6 million tonnes last year, while feed use of barley is forecast to drop to 4 million tonnes from last year’s 5.3 million tonnes.

“Of most interest in the Food, Seed and Industrial sector in 2021-22 is a forecast increase in the use of grain in the bioethanol sector following the UK government’s recent announcement to phase in E10 fuel in the UK from this September,” the USDA said. “A previously closed facility will reopen while the other UK facility is not only expected to increase production but also switch back to processing mainly domestic feed quality wheat after a price-driven switch to imported corn in 2020-21.”