August 24, 2008

Farmers’ Race Against Rain to Harvest in ‘Awful August’

This one because we wanted to avoid expensive grain-drying costs.

"The driers run on agricultural diesel that has gone up from about 35p a litre to 65p in the past 12 months and at the moment crops have a high moisture content and need to be dried before they can be marketed.

"On top of that, the price of milling wheat has gone down from a high of pounds200 a ton last year to about pounds135 a ton now."

Wet conditions could also lead to shortages of other crops, such as peas and beans and also damage the soil structure and affect future harvests.

Mr Temple said: "The situation is not irretrievable, but it is getting that way if the weather doesn't pick up pretty quickly.

"Even after last year's dreadful floods we had got most of the crops in by now."

The recent terrible weather led to the Met Office dubbing this month "awful August," and more rain is forecast for the coming days.

Forecasters say there is a chance of localised showers across East Yorkshire today, tomorrow and Monday.

With the continued wet summer weather, the NFU is stepping up efforts to liaise with the food supply chain over potential quality issues.

The aim of the Crop Monitor is to ensure the supply chain is kept up to date as problems arise to minimise the impact on farmers.

Cereal grower Keith Wells, of Southfield Farm, Burton Fleming, near Bridlington, said he still had 650 acres of his 1,000 acres of crops to harvest.

He said: "The weather really has turned it into a stop-go harvest, and we have only had the combine out six times since July 27. The longest period we have been able run the harvester is two spells of two hours before we were rained off."

Mr Wells said his crops of milling wheat had been ready to harvest for 10 days and the delay was causing the quality to disappear.

He said: "We have a crop of peas that are looking very sad and hopefully we will get a dry spell to allow us to pick them up.

"Everything is difficult to do and I can't believe we have hardly started the harvest coming up to the end of August.

"I have never known such a time and this year's harvest is quickly turning into a salvage operation."

"It is difficult to keep cheerful with this situation going on day after day.

"But we have to remain optimistic the weather will improve."

For more information about the Crop Monitor initiative, visit the NFU or Home Grown Cereals Authority websites.

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