Suffolk: Farmers face crisis as crops hit by dry spell

SUFFOLK’S farming community is struggling to cope with the ongoing dry weather and there are growing concerns about the quality and yield of this year’s harvest, it was claimed last night.

SUFFOLK’S farming community is struggling to cope with the ongoing dry weather and there are growing concerns about the quality and yield of this year’s harvest, it was claimed last night.

Following on from a dry start to the year, March and April recorded alarmingly low levels of rainfall and that has continued into May.

Now forecasters say they cannot see where the next significant rain will come from, although they claim predictions of a May heatwave are wide of the mark.

Suffolk National Farmers Union (NFU) chairman, Richard Scott, said farmers had endured some of the toughest conditions for decades, but added that it was still too soon to know how it would impact on yield.


You may also want to watch:


He said: “I certainly haven’t seen anything quite like this – we are in a bit of uncharted territory.

“We don’t know the outcome of the harvest yet. It’s not until the harvesters go out that we will be able to actually assess what we have got.” He said that even farms with the most resilient soil types were having to downgrade their yield expectations.

Most Read

He added: “The longer this goes on we have to keep readdressing this week by week. It will have financial implications, but until the combines go in we will not really know the full outcome.

“The crop is definitely not lost, not by a long way.”

Forecaster Joe Osborne, from meteorological experts Weatherquest, said East Anglia was the driest place in the country and that was unlikely to change until the weekend at the earliest.

He said: “There is no sign of significant rainfall on the horizon. There’s the chance of a few more showers coming on Sunday and into the early part of next week.”

He said the persistent dry spell was down to high pressure that was holding off more regular, wet weather and that showed no signs of abating this week.

He added: “It’s still a big problem for East Anglia, which has missed a lot of recent rainfall that other places have got. This is pretty much the driest place in the country this year.”

And it’s not just farmers who are feeling the impact of the lack of rain since Christmas.

About one fifth of the county’s businesses are connected to the industry and all are bracing themselves for the worst.

Mike Norfolk, grain supply chain manager for Stowmarket-based maltings firm Muntons, said he was not sure to what extent the crop yield would be affected.

He said: “It’s going to have an impact on the crops that we see this year, whether it’s malting barley or wheat. It’s been very dry.

“To what extent are yields and quality going to be affected? We don’t know.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus