Dry spell causing concern for farmers

THE driest spring for many years is having a severe effect on crops in the region, farmers have warned.

Annie Davidson

THE driest spring for many years is having a severe effect on crops in the region, farmers have warned.

John Collen, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said yields were being lost due to very little rainfall in April and May compared to normal years.

He said in April last year 80mms of rain fell in the Lowestoft area but May and April combined this year had only added up to 20mms.

Mr Collen said: “It is very, very dry - we are losing yields without a shadow of a doubt.

“Speaking to people from other areas, their crops have had a couple of good rains so yes, they are under stress, but they are probably not losing huge yields.

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“Whereas on this coastal area we are certainly losing them.

“This has got to be one of the driest April and May periods I can remember in 30 years.”

He added: “This dry spring has undoubtedly started to impact on income - I am not going to pretend it will make or break us because one year in isolation isn't going to do that but it will have a considerable impact.

“We have always been at the mercy of the weather and this year is no different.

“But contrary to common belief us farmers are fairly optimistic people - next year will be another year.”

The recent warm spell has seen temperatures across the country soaring with areas of Suffolk reaching a peak of 22C (72F) on Sunday which was one of the hottest days of the year so far.

Jim Bacon, managing director of regional forecasters Weatherquest in Norwich, said yesterday that predictions for a sizzling summer were on the mark.

“The Met office's seasonal forecasters are still going for a drier than average summer and a warmer than average summer and I see no reason to dispute that,” he said.

“We have had one or two indicators which suggest it is going to be different to last year.”

He said some areas of Suffolk had seen very slightly above average rainfall in May while others, like Wattisham, had seen just below with 37mms in the month compared to the average of 44mms.

Mr Bacon added the temperature had been 1.5 degrees above the average maximum temperature during May.