East Anglia’s farmers ‘frustrated’ as wet spell holds back combines

Glenn Buckingham in his wheat fields near Framsden. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Glenn Buckingham in his wheat fields near Framsden. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Frustrated East Anglian farmers are watching the weather after a wet spell which has caused combines to grind to a halt across much of the region.

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Despite an earlier than average start to harvest, with progress made mainly on winter barley and some oilseed rape crops, a more unsettled spell has meant wheat growers will have to wait it out and see when the wet front passes.

Glenn Buckingham, of Helmingham, near Stowmarket, who is Suffolk county vice chairman of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), said crops on his farm were coming right and with some more hot weather they would change quite quickly.

“It does get frustrating, but that’s how it is,” he said.

He has harvested his winter barley, and that had been “very satisfactory”, as well as oilseed rape, but the rain prevented him moving on to the wheat.

Glenn Buckingham in his wheat fields near Framsden. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Glenn Buckingham in his wheat fields near Framsden. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

His biggest concern is for his milling wheat as a more prolonged period of wet weather could hit quality.

“It looks as though the rest of this week is out,” he said. “We don’t need any more of this sort of weather really.”

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The weather was variable across the county, though, and towards the coast, some harvesting had been in progress, he said.

Tom Bradshaw, of Fordham, near Colchester, who sits on the NFU’s combinable crops board, admitted the delay was frustrating.

Glenn Buckingham in his wheat fields near Framsden. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Glenn Buckingham in his wheat fields near Framsden. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“We have not done anything for 10 days now. We finished winter barley last Tuesday (July 18) - we have not cut anything since then,” he said. His spring barley, and probably his spring wheats, were now ready to harvest, “but the weather doesn’t necessarily look like it’s going to play ball”. “It’s frustrating but I’m not overly concerned about it just yet. If we had another week like this, I would begin to worry about the quality of the crops on the field,” he said.

His winter barley crop had been slightly below average on yield but quality had generally been fine.

“Generally, particularly in Suffolk and Norfolk the oilseed rape seems to be performing very well particularly in the coastal region. As you get inland, things seem a lot more average or below average. It’s a little bit variable depending on location.” It was too early to judge the crops overall, he said. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

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