East Anglia/UK: Wheat crop shrinks after cold takes toll

An NFU poll reveals farmers' fears over wheat crop

An NFU poll reveals farmers' fears over wheat crop - Credit: Archant

This year’s wheat harvest is likely to be smaller than last year’s, as short-term confidence among arable farmers plummets to a new low, two snap polls have revealed.

The studies by the National Farmers’ Union showed the overall harvested area on UK farms polled is on course to be almost 30% lower than in 2012.

Meanwhile, figures from HGCA, the cereals and oilseeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, show winter wheat planting area is 25% down.

Farmers have faced a year of unprecedented extreme weather which has battered crops and in a separate NFU survey, nearly half of arable farmers interviewed (45%) were less confident about their farm’s prospects in the next 12 months compared to last year.

Stephen Rash, who farms at Wortham, near Diss, was not surprised at the results of the polls and said his own crop performance was patchy

About a third of his winter wheat crop was “pretty rotten”, he said. Early in the season, he pulled about 30 acres of his winter wheat after realising it wasn’t prospering and planted spring barley instead. He regrets not pulling a further 30 acres, he said. “It’s all looking pretty scruffy to be honest,” he said.

On the light soil at Euston Estate, Thetford, director Andrew Blenkiron said overall crop performance had been patchy, but while other farmers enjoyed bumper 2011 wheat crops as his suffered, his 2013 winter wheat was looking “fine”. Other estate crops had been hit though.

Most Read

For more crop news, read Saturday’s County Life