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Concerns abound over quality as rain delays harvest

: News & Articles : Schools and Farming : Concerns abound over quality as rain delays harvest
Posted on: 2012-09-01

As the wheat harvest progresses in Europe, more heavy rain at the tail-end of Britain’s wettest summer on record is causing concern over slow progress and potential effect on quality.

Yield is set to be below average this year as wet weather has increased the spread of disease, according to crop consultants ADAS. The UK harvest is approaching 50 per cent complete, but running over a week late and continued heavy rains are adding further delays in the North and East of the country, where similar conditions caused record delays to planting in April.

Specific weights are expected to be down in the UK. In addition to the rain, inadequate summer heat and cool spring weather are thought to have contributed to the crops’ development difficulties this year.

Throughout the UK, the year’s weather has caused damage, with a mild winter weather giving way to a late cold snap, before early warm weather in March followed by cool weather and heavy rain. The effect has been disastrous for fruit, salad and horticulture producers, who have seen exceptionally heavy losses across Europe.

Despite increased planting and better returns for many cereal crops, only spring barley has shown signs of flourishing this season. Wheat crops are expected to be down and returns lower.

Conversely, yields in France, the EU’s largest producer, are expected to be above average. The French harvest is now complete and early indications suggest France will reap a 36.5 million tonne wheat crop this year, compared to the UK’s estimated 14.5mt

Although the wet weather experienced across Northern Europe this summer had sparked fears of a reduced harvest, France and Germany, where harvest is also nearing completion, look to have escaped the worst of the rain’s ravages.

Worldwide, wheat prices are extremely high this year, as a series of droughts in the Black Sea area, United States and potentially Australia and India have precipitated a rise in cereal prices. There are fears that higher prices and greater competition for cereals could spark food crises.

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