September 1, 2008

Wet August Creates Nightmare for Wheat Farmers Left With Soggy Crop

Weathermen yesterday predicted more bad news for farmers fretting over fields of soggy wheat.

The National Farmers' Union said three-quarters of Britain's wheat had yet to be cut after a rainy summer and crops were "vulnerable".

Rising fuel prices have pushed up the price farmers pay to dry grain, giving the arable industry more headaches.

NFU officials said farmers were hoping for an Indian summer so that wet crops could dry before being harvested.

"Around 20 to 25 per cent of the national wheat crop has been cut now, and ripening crops that remain are increasingly vulnerable to weather damage to quality, particularly in southern and eastern regions," said an NFU spokesman.

"With drying grain much more expensive than previous years, due to steep increases in fuel cost, farmers are still hoping for a good long run of dry weather, ideally bringing moisture content to below 15 per cent where drying would not be necessary."

He said the harvest in East Anglia was "taking a lot of getting" and 75 per cent was still waiting to be cut.

"In other years, 90 to 100 per cent of the region's crop would have been harvested by now," he added.

"Quality generally is said to be just about holding up, where farmers are taking the most valuable crops first, although milling quality is increasingly at risk."

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