A new survey has predicted 2016’s wheat harvest will be similar in size to this year’s return at 1.8Mha.

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said its Early Bird survey had predicted the area for arable crops will be slightly ahead next year – mainly because of an increase in spring barley and oats. However, oilseed rape will be down 14% because of profitability issues for farmers.

The annual autumn survey, based on submissions from a team of agronomists assessing more than 250,000ha of arable land across Great Britain, provided the industry with a first snapshot of national planting decisions.

Brenda Mullan, AHDB Market Intelligence acting senior analyst, said: “For next year’s harvest, we are looking at a similar area planted to wheat as 2015, with anecdotal comments suggesting that the area of spring wheat is rising within the total wheat area.

“It appears the GB barley area is on the rise again this year, but with less winter barley planted so far and spring planting still some time off, the true changes in the total barley remain to be seen.”

In contrast to last year’s trends, the winter barley area is estimated to be down 4% year-on-year, at 424,000ha for the 2016 harvest. However, the expected increase in the spring barley area, if realised, will more than offset the reduction in winter barley, taking the total barley area to 1.2Mha – 5% higher than 2015.

The 2016 area for oats is expected to increase by 13% compared with 2015, which is similar to the size of the fall witnessed last year. At 148,000ha, if realised, this would be 9% higher than the previous five-year average.

The oilseed rape area is expected to decline in 2016 for the fourth consecutive season to 565,000ha.