Farmers’ fears over dry spell

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FARMERS have warned of the potentially ‘catastrophic’ effects on their harvest if the ongoing dry weather continues.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) says it expects a drop in yield in cereal crops as farmers battle some of the toughest conditions in decades.

Since the start of March, farmers in the region have recorded between 8mm to 9mm of rainfall with more dry weather predicted this month.

Robert Baker, owner of JD and RJ Baker Farms Ltd, at Whitefield Farm, in Drinkstone, said everyone was effected to ‘varying degrees’ depending on the type of land.

He said: “Around the Bury area, the heavier land is fairing better than the light land but they’re all suffering.

“Every day that goes by without rain the situation gets more and more grave.

“Our sugar beet doesn’t look too bad at the moment but our wheat crops are shorter than normal. It’s hard to quantify what effect that will have on the yield. If it carries on through the grain filling period, it could be quite catastrophic for everyone.”

He added that he had been a farmer for 25 years and the last serious drought was in 1976.

Charles Mathieson, a partner in W A Howes and Son, in Norton, has been farming for 35 years.

He said: “Some of the spring crops are being drilled into soil that has had no rain whatsoever.

“Therefore, they are struggling to grow.

“The winter crops are not too bad.

“Another week, 10 days, we will want rain otherwise it will start to really seriously affect the potential of the crop.”

Central Suffolk MP Dr Daniel Poulter and Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley joined Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey at her adjournment debate in the Commons this week to discuss the ‘effects on farming of a potential drought’.