Areas of potatoes and grain maize decline sharply; winter wheat and spelt increase

Agriculture & fishery
Areas of potatoes and grain maize decline sharply; winter wheat and spelt increase

Provisional agricultural results 2021

According to the provisional agricultural results for 2021, the number of farm holdings and the utilised agricultural area have remained stable in Belgium compared to 2020. These results were obtained by coupling administrative data for crops, cattle and pigs to Statbel’s agricultural register.

The total area of potatoes in Belgium has decreased by 7.8% in 2021. Various actors concerned had called for reduced production of potatoes in order to eliminate the large stocks resulting from the corona pandemic. The decrease was slightly larger in Wallonia than in Flanders (-9% and -6.8% respectively).

After a sharp decline in 2020, the area of winter wheat in Belgium increased again by 6.2% or +10,943 ha and thus almost reached the 2019 level in 2021. However, less spring cereals were sown (-5.5% spring wheat and -22.4% spring barley).

Due to the increasing demand for spelt and the good spelt price, the area in 2021 increased by 22.4% to 18,586 ha.

The area of grain maize decreased by 7.1%. This decrease is entirely due to the decrease in the area under cultivation in Flanders (-8,6%), whereas it increased by 1.8% in Wallonia.

The decrease in the area of sugar beets continued by 2.9% in 2021. This is due to the decrease in Wallonia, while the area in Flanders remained stable. The area of chicory increased by 6.1%.

Due to the disappointing yields of flax in 2020, less flax was sown in 2021 (-16.2% or -3,002 ha).

The Belgian cattle population was further reduced by 1.4% to less than 2.4 million animals in 2021. The decrease was the same in all regions. The decrease mainly concerns animals aged 2 and over. Within this age group, the decrease was greatest for breeding heifers (-7.5%), while the number of dairy cows and suckler cows also decreased.

The pig population slightly increased by +0.5% or 32,790 animals. The number of piglets under 20 kg increased by 1.7% (+27,539 animals), while breeding pigs decreased by 0.7% or 2,850 animals. The number of fattening pigs remained unchanged compared to 2020.