Crops get a weather boost

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LAST week’s fine weather gave farmers and crops a chance to catch up.

For the farmers there was a chance to get the combine harvesters on to the fields, though those on heavy soils found some fields too wet for them. For certain crops, held back by spring’s low temperatures it was a chance to put on a spurt of growth – which was not always ideal.

A National Farmers’ Union eastern region spokesman said: “We’re looking for some stable weather that will allow the farmers to catch up. But some crops just weren’t ready because of the cool weather.”

Euston Estates, with its wide variety of crops, illustrates the mixed impact of the weather.

Estate manager Andrew Blenkiron said: “We had a good week last week and managed to cut 80 per cent of our winter barley. The moisture through early spring and summer means it’s yielded well. But then we had the storms on Sunday which pushed down the remaining 20 per cent, so that will take more effort.”

Even on their light soils, they found some fields too wet for machines until late in the week.

The estate has also harvested about five per cent of its oilseed rape but the rain has encouraged the rest to grow on which may improve yields.

Mr Blenkiron is more concerned about winter wheat which has been hit by moisture-induced diseases and while yields are up, quality may fall. He said: “It does need to come right now and that’s in the lap of the gods.”

Potatoes are also suffering. Euston’s light soils mean they have been able to spray for blight, unlike farmers on heavy soils, but cool weather held the plants back. The sudden heat then boosted growth, but in the leaves, not the tubers.