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Farmland Use - Horticulture


The total agricultural land used for horticultural production in Scotland at June 2016 was 21,100 hectares. The vast majority of horticultural land was used for producing vegetables for human consumption (18,200) with fruit grown on 1,900 hectares and flowers and nursery stock on 950 hectares.

Vegetables for Human Consumption Source: June Agricultural Census , Table 2

The total area of vegetables grown in the open for human consumption at June 2016 increased by 1,500 hectares (nine per cent) to 18,200 hectares, the largest rise (both in terms of percentage and area) since SAF applications began to be used as the primary source of land data in 2009. As has been the case over the last ten years, peas were the dominant vegetable accounting for 42 per cent of the total vegetable area, followed by carrots (18 per cent), beans (ten per cent), broccoli (calabrese) (nine per cent), turnips/swedes (eight per cent), with all other vegetable crops contributing 12 per cent.

Chart 9: Vegetables for human consumption, June 2016

Trends show that the total vegetable area increased by 1,700 hectares (16 per cent) between 2003 and 2008, mostly due to increases in peas and carrots.

The increase in vegetables from 2015 to 2016 was driven by increases in all crops, though peas (up 510 hectares or seven per cent), carrots (up 380 hectares or 13 per cent) and beans (up 320 hectares or 22 per cent) accounted for the largest increases.

The area of vegetables planted, which is often related to demand and contracts with supermarkets, has almost doubled since 1988. The increase in the area of vegetables of 3,700 hectares (31 per cent) between 2008 and 2009 however, probably represents a jump in the data series following the switch to using SAF data for those holdings claiming Single Farm Payment.


Vegetables for human consumption, trends 2006 to 2016

Chart 10: Vegetables for human consumption, trends 2006 to 2016

Vegetables generally account for around four per cent of total farm output, with sales in 2016 being estimated at £123m. The valuation of vegetables is comprised of many different crops. Table A4 of the Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture (ERSA) provides information on the tonnage and output value for the key crops.

Over the past ten years, the output value of vegetables has increased by £37 million (43 per cent) to £123 million in 2016.

Chart: Average annual output prices for carrots and turnips & swedes, 2006 to 2016

Vegetable output prices 2006 to 2016

Carrots were the most valuable vegetable crop in Scotland, with a value of £32 million in 2016, almost double the 2006 value of £17 million, with increased areas (up 44 per cent) and prices (up 30 per cent) driving this longer term trend. Turnips and swedes were the second largest vegetable crop in 2016 in terms of production (49,000 tonnes) though not in value (£10 million, compared to peas at £14 million). After a sharp increase in 2013, the value of turnips and swedes halved in 2014 and remained low in 2016.


In 2012, the Single Application Form (SAF) was amended to collect more detailed information on soft fruit, particularly with regard to identifying whether crops were grown in open fields, glasshouses or walk-in plastic structures. This resulted in a large shift from those areas reported as open field towards those classed as grown under walk-in plastic structures or glasshouses.

The chart below presents combined areas of soft fruit in both open field, in walk-in plastic structures and glasshouses. Given the developments in data collection described above, the changes seen in 2009 and 2012 should be treated with some caution.

Chart : Soft fruit trends (both open field and plastic or glasshouse crops) 2006 to 2016

Chart 11: Soft fruit trends (both open field and plastic or glasshouse crops) 2006 to 2016

Between 2015 and 2016 the area of strawberries grown rose by 54 hectares to 990 hectares (a 5.7 per cent increase), largely driven by an increase in crops grown under cover.

Raspberries which, in recent years have been affected by reduced demand and disease such as raspberry root rot, resumed the declining trend evident since 2009 (following an increase in 2015), falling by 25 hectares (seven per cent) to 325 hectares. The area of blackcurrants also fell by 12 hectares (four per cent) to 300 hectares.

In contrast, alternative soft fruits such as blueberries and those encompassed within the 'other fruit' category both increased, by 12 hectares (ten per cent) and by 40 hectares (50 per cent) respectively. Orchard fruit fell 11 per cent to 98 hectares.

Fruit generally accounts for around three per cent of total farm output. Over the past ten years the output value of soft fruit has increased by £66 million (137 per cent) to an estimated £115 million in 2016.

Table A4 of the Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture (ERSA) provides information on the tonnage and output value for the key fruit crops. In 2016, strawberries accounted for £84 million (73 per cent of the overall value of soft fruit) and raspberries £12 million (10 per cent).

Chart : Average annual output prices for raspberries and strawberries 2006 to 2016

Fruit output prices 2006 to 2016


Over the past decade the value of strawberries has increased by £56 million (144 per cent). This was mostly due to an 11,000 tonne (77 per cent) increase in production, along with an increase in average prices of £720 per tonne (29 per cent).

The value of raspberries increased by £4.3 million (57 per cent) over the same period. This was mainly due to increased production to 2,600 tonnes (15 per cent) and a 37 per cent increase in prices since 2006.

Bulbs, flowers & hardy nursery stock 

In 2016, there was a drop of 330 hectares (26 per cent) in the area of land used to grow bulbs, flowers and nursery stock. This fall was driven by a drop in the recorded area of ornamental trees, which may have been due to changes in the categories used on the 2015 Single Application Form rather than a genuine reduction of ornamental trees or hardy nursery stock. The crop area was, however, maintained in 2016, with only a slight reduction (of just under five hectares or 0.5 per cent) evident in the area of bulbs, flowers and hardy nursery stock.



Tayside had 70 per cent (1,400 hectares) of the land used for orchard and soft fruit in Scotland. Tayside also accounted for nearly half (47 per cent or 8,600 hectares) of the land used to grow vegetables for human consumption. Also in the east, Grampian, Fife, Scottish Borders and Lothian also contributed greatly to the production of soft fruit and vegetables. 

Chart : Distribution of potatoes, soft fruit and vegetables by regional grouping, June 2016

Potato area by region

The links listed below provide access to further statistical tables on horticultural areas.



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