flooded field crops

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New data from AHDB has revealed that wheat, winter barley and oilseed rape are all likely to be significantly reduced this year due to wet weather

Growers have warned that the impact of continuing rainfall is putting harvests and planting of new crops on hold.

New data, published by AHDB this week, has revealed that wheat, winter barley and oil seed rape are all likely to be significantly reduced this year due to the wet weather that has plagued some parts of the country since last autumn.

Wheat planting is down 15%, oilseed rape down 28% and winter barley down by 22%, according to a survey from the crops board.

“Since the end of last year, farms across the country have faced continued wet weather with many thousands of acres of productive farmland affected,” said NFU president Tom Bradshaw.

“Many farms in areas such as Lincolnshire are still under water from last October, and we have heard countless desperate stories from our members who are struggling to get onto their fields to plant any crops.”

Bradshaw added this built on a difficult year for growers with high inputs costs, lower commodity prices and a reduction in direct payments.

One industry source told The Grocer it would not be long before spring crops will also be impacted, and it will look marginal.

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“The weather is not helping, it just gets wetter and wetter as we go,” echoed British Growers Association CEO Jack Ward. “We’re getting further and further into the 2024 season without being able to do anything.”

“Everybody will now be itching to get things in the ground and it’s just not happening,” he said explaining that there hadn’t been a long enough period without rainfall to dry out the ground.

The NFU has taken the opportunity to call on the government to deliver better water management and funding for the Environment Agency, “so it can deliver a proactive plan of management and re-investment in the watercourses and flood defences it is responsible for”.

“While it is difficult to mitigate against all environmental extremes, we must recognise that we haven’t been prioritising our water management and things are going drastically wrong,” said Bradshaw.