Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Farmers concerned about crops

FARMERS fear their winter crops will be damaged by the persistent wet weather.

FARMERS fear their winter crops will be damaged by the persistent wet weather.

Some have been unable to finish their planting while those that have are struggling to cope with rotting produce and a problem with slugs and snails.

Michael Colston, owner of Ewelme Park Farm, said he had lost some of his winter wheat crop.

He said: “The only way to salvage the crops is to wait until the spring and then replant them. If you lose your winter crops, you lose the cost of the seed and the labour but crops which are planted in the spring give a much lower yield so you suffer a double whammy.

“It’s the best year for slugs and snails that I can remember. There are statutory guidelines which determine how may slug pellets you can put on the ground and most of us have reached that limit and still the slugs are busy. They can ruin a crop in two or three days if left unchecked.

“Last year was the wettest on record and most of that has fallen in the second half of the year, so the last six months have been by far the wettest. It has steadily got worse.”

Brian Doble, owner of Shiplake Farm, is growing oil seed rape, winter barley and winter wheat.

He said: “We hope we will not need to replant but we do not know yet. Time will tell how it will be. We have grassland which is covered in water and our arable land is wetter than I have seen it in my whole farming life.” Shirley Belcher, who owns Hale Farm in Benson with her husband, Ben, has only been able to plant half of their arable crops and will have to wait until spring to plant the remainder.

Mrs Belcher said: “You do worry because as farmers you are very dependent on the weather and you can’t do anything about it.

“The wet weather will mean we can secure higher prices but that will affect livestock farmers.

“Until the spring comes along you just can’t do a lot about it. At the moment you feel like you’re not getting the rewards for what you put in. We get very wet here and you just can’t get out on the ground at all. Luckily, we are not flooded but some of the fields have water sitting on them. Everywhere is just a mess.”

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