September 10, 2008


Rain keeps delaying UK wheat harvest; quality concerns rise



UK farmers made limited progress in the wheat harvest over the past six days, with severe rain Sunday and more rain Monday night adding to frustrations and fears over possible quality damage, the National Farmers Union of England and Wales said Tuesday (September 9).


"Our bright hopes of wrapping up the rest of this year's wheat harvest neatly are steadily washing away with the autumn rain," NFU said.


Harvest progress varies widely by region, with portions in southern England only halfway done. Farmers have also struggled to make progress in western parts of East Anglia, a major producing region.


Wheat harvesting in East Anglia was estimated at 60 percent done overall, but normally by this time of year the harvest is completed entirely, said the NFU report.


"Sprouting has been seen and (specific) weight may soon suffer," the report said about East Anglia. "Fortunately crops are standing and have not begun to collapse significantly."


Rain on ripe grain and can lower quality characteristics needed to make bread.


Meanwhile cutting in parts of the North East, East Midlands and Yorkshire are mostly finished.


The UK Meteorological Office forecasts further rain in the northern England on Wednesday and for more heavy rain in many areas Thursday. Western regions will be drier and brighter Friday and Saturday.


Continued wet weather is also delaying UK autumn plantings, said the Home Grown Cereals Authority.


Only 5 percent of the intended UK rapeseed crop had been planted by the end of August, which compares to normal years when plantings are 50 percent to 60 percent done, according to crop consultants at ADAS.


Time is running out to prepare seedbeds and establish some varieties of rapeseed, so farmers are preparing back-up cropping plans, said NFU.

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