Record cereal yields per hectare

© Hollandse Hoogte
In 2019, arable farmers in the Netherlands achieved record yields of the cereals wheat and barley. Last year’s wheat yield averaged 9.6 tonnes per hectare, up 9 percent on the previous year and over a tonne above the long-term average. The barley yield was 7.4 tonnes per hectare last year, i.e. 6 percent more than in 2018 and also a tonne above the average annual yield per hectare. These figures were taken from the definitive crop estimates conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

The good performance in wheat and barley farming in 2019 was primarily due to record yields of winter wheat and winter barley. Winter wheat production stood at 9.8 tonnes per hectare, against 7.1 tonnes per hectare for summer wheat. Barley production amounted to 9.1 tonnes of winter barley and 6.6 tonnes per hectare of summer barley.

Yields per hectare (1,000 kg/ha)
Soort gewas20192018Long-term average
Sugar beets83.976.472.6
Seed onions50.335.557.2
Ware potatoes47.941.249.8
Wheat9.68.88.5
Barley7.47.06.4

Ware potato and seed onion yields per hectare below long-term average

In 2019, ware potato and seed onion yields per hectare were below their long-term average. At 47.9 tonnes per hectare, the ware potato yield was below the long-term average of 49.8 tonnes, while the seed onion yield stood at 50.3 tonnes per hectare (versus the long-term average of 57.2 tonnes). Nevertheless, potato and onion yields per hectare were still considerably higher (16 percent and 42 percent respectively) than in harvest year 2018.

The sugar beet yield per hectare was above its long-term average last year, amounting to 83.9 tonnes and 10 percent up on the previous year.

Gross harvest yields (bn kg)
JaartalSugar beetsWare potatoesSeed onionsWheatBarley
20006.74.50.81.10.3
20015.93.60.81.00.4
20026.33.90.81.10.3
20036.23.20.81.10.3
20046.33.81.21.20.3
20055.93.21.01.20.3
20065.43.10.91.20.3
20075.53.61.11.00.3
20085.23.61.21.40.3
20095.73.61.21.40.3
20105.33.51.31.40.2
20115.93.91.61.20.2
20125.73.41.31.30.2
20135.73.51.21.30.2
20146.83.91.21.30.2
20154.93.31.41.30.2
20165.53.21.31.00.2
20178.04.01.51.10.2
20186.53.10.91.00.3
20196.63.71.41.20.2

Gross cereal yield not breaking records

Despite the high yields per hectare of cereals, no new records were established in the gross harvest yield per hectare. Although these yields were up year-on-year, they were still below their long-term average. The gross yield per hectare for wheat amounted to 1.2 billion kg in 2019, representing an increase of 17.6 percent on the previous year. For barley it was 0.2 billion kg, 2 percent less than in the previous year.

The gross yield of ware potatoes last year stood at 3.7 billion kg, i.e. 18.6 percent more than the previous year. The seed onion harvest stood at 1.4 billion kg, a year-on-year increase of 54.4 percent. Despite higher gross yields of ware potatoes and seed onions relative to the somewhat poorer harvest in 2018, both yields were still below their long-term average.

At 6.6 kg, last year’s sugar beet harvest was not only higher than in 2018 (+2 percent), it was also above its long-term average (5.9 billion kg). However, this was still substantially lower than the yield in the peak year 2017, when the harvest amounted to 8.0 billion kg.

Seed onion cultivation area rising to new record

The cultivation area for seed onions expanded further, reaching double the size of the year 2000 to a total of 27.6 thousand hectares in 2019. More and more arable farmers are adding seed onions to their crop plans. Relative to 2000, there was a decline in cereals such as wheat and barley, sugar beets and ware potatoes. The total cultivation area for these crops combined was reduced by 69.4 thousand hectares last year relative to 2000.

Trends in cultivation area, main crops (2000=100)
JaartalSeed onionsWare potatoesWheatBarleySugar beets
2000100100100100100
2001102879114298
2002107889912198
2003117819511793
20041428310110288
20051207510010782
2006132791039575
2007144831039774
20081457911510665
2009140811109465
2010159831137164
2011167831117266
2012150771116366
2013157821126366
2014160851045968
2015171821047053
201617984947464
201719187856477
201818187827777
201919790897271

Yield per hectare: provisional vs. definitive figures

CBS publishes provisional figures in crop estimates every October, followed by definitive figures every January. In the period 2010-2019, the definitive yield per hectare for ware potatoes was below the provisional estimation in four out of the ten years. The greatest discrepancy occurred in 2015, when the definitive yield was almost 9 percent lower than initially estimated. In the remaining six years, the definitive yield was higher than the estimates in October.

In the same period, the definitive average yield of seed onions per hectare was lower than the provisional estimate in five years (in 2014, up to 6.5 percent lower), but higher in the remaining five years (in 2018, up to 10.9 percent higher).

For harvest year 2019, the final yield per hectare of seed onions was 5.3 percent below the provisional estimate.