Suffolk/Essex: Crop of sprouting broccoli lost and wheat three weeks behind schedule

Alder Carr Farm in Needham Market has built polytunnels to plant strawberries and has lost three mon

Alder Carr Farm in Needham Market has built polytunnels to plant strawberries and has lost three months worth of sprouting broccoli. Despite the weather theyve had a successful lambing season. Pictured is farm owner Ellie Sheldrake with the damaged broccoli. - Credit: Archant

SOME of Suffolk’s producers have explained the impact the extreme weather has had over the last year.

Ellie Sheldrake, of Alder Carr Farm, in Creeting St Mary, near Needham Market, said the farm had lost three months worth of sprouting broccoli.

“The crops for January, February and March had to be mowed off early,” she said. “The loss of the value of the sprouting broccoli has probably had the biggest impact.

“Our asparagus has come at the end of April in previous years but it will probably come up late.

“We are trying to mitigate the weather by putting up polytunnels for our strawberries, as we planted 3,000 plants in the snow. They should appear in 60 days if it does warm up.”

Mrs Sheldrake said the farm’s lambing season had been unaffected, with 18 lambs born so far.

Robert Baker, of JD and RJ Baker Farms in Drinkstone, near Bury St Edmunds, said he was hoping for a fair season.

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“The last thing we need is a very, very dry season, because I suspect the crops haven’t rooted very well,” he said.

“Wheat is probably two to three weeks behind and rape is really struggling, particularly with pigeon damage.

“We are around three weeks behind with sugar beet as well. Everything is late coming out.”

Jam-makers Wilkin and Sons, based in Tiptree in Essex, have also been affected by the “challenging” season.

Farm director Chris Newenham said: “As things currently stand, the strawberry season which usually starts in early May is likely to be at least three weeks behind – it could be even more if the current weather pattern continues.

“Rhubarb is also behind though not to the same degree. A warmer January saw early growth but the crop has since stalled.

“The only plus is on our stone fruit which, as a result of the current cold spell, have not burst bud yet and therefore not suffered any frost damage, but hopefully the weather will have improved by the time they are in full flower.”

Wine producers are experiencing the knock-on effect of last year’s wet summer when Shawsgate Vineyard, in Framlingham, recorded a yield of 40% less than the previous year.

Owner Les Jarrett said: “The weather has affected both visitor numbers and our yield.

“Last year’s rain affected our flowering and pollination so it meant we had a reduced yield of about 40%.

“We won’t know exactly how the weather has affected how our crops make up for next spring until at least May, but we still expect to be down by about 30%.”

Meanwhile, Graeme Proctor, of Crown Nursery, based in Ufford, said the weather had increased the length of the planting season.

“This time last year we had the heatwave which meant the season stopped early and we are still going this year,” he added.

“We’ve had a much longer period for people to continue planting.

“It’s been good but with a few bumps along the way, although it has averaged out and we are holding our own.”

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