June 22, 2011


Dry weather blamed for slump in UK wheat yields



The UK's yields for wheat and oilseed rape are forecast to be amongst the lowest since the late 1980s.


Analysis carried out by the National Farmers Union (NFU) has shown that yields are "likely to be significantly down on the five-year average" with the dry weather largely to blame.


Very poor growing conditions, particularly in the east of the country, mean that average English wheat yield in 2011 will be down by 14% to around 6.5 tonnes per hectare.


This all comes despite the area planted in the country thought to be similar to last year.


NFU combinable crops chairman Ian Backhouse, who farms at Goole, said: "I believe this year's forecast yield decrease was largely due to poor growing conditions since winter."


"With the east of England experiencing its lowest rainfall for the first half of the year in over 100 years, farmers are clearly concerned about the impact on the ground of this abnormally dry spring," he said.


"Watching crops wither has meant a difficult time for many of our farmers and growers, particularly in the worst affected parts of the country."


Based on analysis of these farmer estimates, production could be down on the five-year average by around two million tonnes to below 12 million tonnes or 15% below the five-year average.


Winter oilseed rape appears to be in a slightly stronger position than for cereals, with farmers forecasting English yields 9% down on the five year average of 3.4 tonnes/ha.

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