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LONDON (Reuters) - England's rapeseed area should be little changed this year with a decline in plantings in the east of the country offset by a rise in more westerly regions, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said on Wednesday.
The AHDB, issuing results of its winter planting survey, put England's rapeseed area, as of Dec. 1 last year, at 538,000 hectares, down 1 percent from the 543,000 hectares harvested last year. Last year's total included spring plantings.
"Unless we see an increase in the spring area, or a rise in abandonment levels, we could be looking at a similar area to last harvest," the AHDB said.
A decline in the east and north-east of England was partly driven by concerns about the risk posed by cabbage stem flea beetles while higher prices at the time of planting boosted area in other regions.
The survey put wheat area, in England and Wales, at 1.61 million hectares, down 5 percent from the total wheat area harvested in 2016 which included spring plantings.
Last year's winter planting survey put wheat area, as of Dec. 1, at 1.66 million hectares.
"Anecdotal comments have suggested growers are starting to consider longer rotations for cultural control for weeds and disease. This could mean other crops such as spring wheat are included in rotations for example," the AHDB said.
A shift to spring cropping has been most marked on farms with blackgrass, one of the most difficult to control and widespread weeds in arable crops in Britain.
Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by Susan Thomas