Farmers’ wheat yield badly hit by weather

Farmer Mike Gooding with his reduced wheat yield

Farmer Mike Gooding with his reduced wheat yield

First published in News Banbury Cake: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

THE summer washout has taken its toll on Oxfordshire’s wheat farmers, with crop yields down by nearly a third.

A heavy summer rainfall saw county wheat yields plummet 20 to 30 per cent compared to a national average decline of 14 per cent, it has been claimed.

William Emmett, chairman of the National Farmers Union Berkshire, Buckinghmashire and Oxfordshire branch, said the county and those to the west traditionally get higher rainfalls than the east.

He said: “2012 has been a great year in every other respect with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, but it has been a tough year for farming.”

Mr Emmett, who has farms in Little Milton and Long Wittenham, said the rain also damaged the quality of grain.

This was attracting lower offers from potential buyers, he said.

And heavy rain this month means planting has been delayed and will hit quality and yields next year, he warned.

The British Retail Consortium yesterday warned poor harvests abroad would add to rising food prices, due to the drop in supply and the cost of importing.

Around 300mm of rain fell between June and August in Oxfordshire compared to a previous 30-year average of 161mm, the highest since 1912, two years after records began.

Charles Dingwall said the yields at his Lyford farm in the Vale of White Horse were down 30 per cent.

He said: “We haven’t had a year as bad as this for many years.

“It has been very poor. We have had a reduction in yield but more than that the quality of the grain has been very poor.”

Profits are down 10 per cent for Wytham farmer Mike Gooding, who said each acre produced a tonne of wheat compared to a tonne and a quarter last year.

He said: “The rain started and hasn’t stopped. The primary problem has been during the flowering time. It was so cold and wet that the insect life have not been able to pollinate the wheat.”

David Keen, who farms in Cuddesdon, said low sunshine from a “very, very poor summer” means he is now being offering £150 for a tonne of wheat instead of £180 last year.

He said: “The crop was attacked by fungal disease which put added pressure on the plants. At the same time the plant roots were flooded and waterlogged.”

He added: “Almost as big an issue is what is going to happen next year.

“The weather has been so wet this autumn that, so far this season, there is not a lot of wheat being planted.”

WASHED OUT

WHEAT producers are not the only county farmers who have been hit by the wet summer.

Last month the Oxford Mail reported that apple growers, cider producers and orchard owners had all been hit.

Cowley’s Elder Stubbs Heritage Orchard was left with barren trees, while Wolvercote Community Orchard was expecting half its usual 400kg yield.

In August, we reported how pig farmers were being hit by the rising cost of wheat and cheap bacon imports from overseas.

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