Sunshine leaves farmers praying for rain

FARMERS in Suffolk are in desperate need of rain if crop yields are to recover in time for the summer harvest, it was warned last night.Last month was the hottest April on record and East Anglia the driest region in the country - with only 5% of the expected amount of rainfall.

FARMERS in Suffolk are in desperate need of rain if crop yields are to recover in time for the summer harvest, it has been warned.

Last month was the hottest April on record and East Anglia the driest region in the country - with only 5% of the expected amount of rainfall.

According to the Met Office the average temperature was 10.2C (50.4F), beating the previous high of 9.2C (48.6F), recorded in 1943.

In Suffolk there was just 2.6mm of rain, compared with the normal monthly average of 44.2mm.


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John Collens, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the National Farmers Union (NFU), said: “My farm had no rain at all in April and I know there is massive concern across the region about a lack of water.

“The spring crops at this moment in time are a write-off - especially barley. It's an absolute disaster and is probably as bad as I have seen it.

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“There is enough time to put some corrective work in, we don't harvest until the end of July/beginning of August, but I don't think it will do the trick.

“This not only means the yield will be smaller - just over two tonnes an acre compared to three - but also that the quality of the barley will be poor for malting because it will be small and shrivelled instead of nice and plump.”

Mr Collens, who runs a farm just outside Lowestoft, said he would expect prices to rise as a result of the poor yields.

“I wouldn't be surprised if on the back of what is a potential poor harvest prices start to increase,” he said. “Not just on the barley related products but all cereal crops like bread wheats and all sorts.”

But a spokesman for Anglia Water said they were optimistic they would not have to impose restrictions during the summer months.

“We had above average rainfall over the winter and that's the period that really matters,” he said. “Our underground reserves and reservoirs all recharged and, while not taking the situation for granted, we do not anticipate that we will have to impose any restrictions on water usage.”

Richard Woollard, communications manager for the East Anglian region, also urged homeowners not to be complacent.

He said: “Although our water resources are still fairly healthy we don't know what is around the corner.

“Because of the dry weather in the last three of four weeks spray irrigation and garden irrigation has started earlier and so there is no room for complacency.”

Meteorologists said while May had started off with more of the same dry, warm conditions, a spell of wetter weather was possible from the end of next weekend.

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