Combine havesting winter wheat © Tim Scrivener

The wheat area in England has dipped 5.8% for this summer’s harvest while barley plantings have risen by 6%, according to figures from Defra.

Crop experts say this reflects reasons such as a switch to alternative crops to wheat to help control blackgrass and the EU’s new three-crop rule.

See also: Cereals and oilseed area in GB fall 2% for 2015 harvest

The figures show a big increase in spring barley to counter blackgrass problems, while the overall oilseed rape area fell for the third year running, this season by 2.9%.

These figures reflect the trend in an AHDB survey of Britain issued last month – which also includes Wales and Scotland – where the wheat area was down 3%, barley up 3% and oilseed rape off 7%.

The key finding of the Defra survey of England are:

  • Wheat area fell by 5.8% to 1.7m hectares from 1.8m hectares at harvest 2014
  • Barley area rose 6% to 752,000ha from 709,000ha at harvest 2014. The biggest rise came from spring barley up 8.3% to 374,000ha with winter barley 3.9% ahead at 377,000ha.
  • Oat area decreased 6.5% to 98,000ha from 105,000ha at harvest 2014.
  • Oilseed rape area fell by 2.9% to 613,000 ha, compared with 632,000ha.