Decrease in Winter Grain Sowing for 2024 Harvest: Nearly 4% Less Winter Crops in Germany

German agricultural enterprises sowed winter crops for the upcoming 2024 harvest on 4.9 million hectares of arable land in the fall of 2023. According to the Statistical Federal Office (Destatis), this represents a reduction in the sowing area for winter crops by 196,500 hectares (-3.9%) compared to the cultivation area in 2023. Winter crops include winter wheat, winter barley, rye, and winter mixed grains, as well as the wheat-rye hybrid Triticale.

The sowing area for winter wheat, the most significant cereal crop in Germany, has decreased by 203,800 hectares or 7.3% to 2.6 million hectares compared to the current cultivation area. A reduction in areas with winter wheat is observed in all federal states except Saarland (+500 hectares or +6.5%). The most substantial decreases in absolute terms are noticeable in Lower Saxony (-58,400 hectares or -16.6%), Schleswig-Holstein (-31,300 hectares or -20.9%), and Bavaria (-23,500 hectares or -4.8%).

Difficulties in sowing winter wheat can be attributed to, among other factors, regionally very moist soils at the intended sowing time and the associated poor field drivability. Additionally, current market conditions for wheat and new regulations regarding direct payments in the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy may have played a role in cultivation decisions.

Reductions are also seen in rye and winter mixed grains, with an expected decrease of 4.4% (-27,400 hectares) to 600,700 hectares. Triticale sowing covered 333,500 hectares, remaining at the same level as the previous year. The cultivation area for winter barley increased slightly by 2.5% (+31,500 hectares) to 1.3 million hectares.

For winter rapeseed, agricultural enterprises sowed 1.1 million hectares, representing a decrease in area by 4.7% or 54,800 hectares.

Methodological Notes:

The extrapolated sowing areas for the 2024 harvest are based on reports from a limited number of voluntary harvest and farm reporters as of the end of November 2023. The results do not include the city-states of Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburg. The findings are to be considered as preliminary cultivation trends. Until the 2024 harvest, damage from winter kill, as well as pest and disease infestations, can still play a role. Year-on-year comparisons refer to the preliminary results of the 2023 Agricultural Land Use Survey.