Arable

Summer 2012 was wettest for 100 years

Friday 31 August 2012 15:31
Storm clouds

The summer of 2012 has been the wettest for 100 years, according to Met Office data.

Figures show an average of 366.8mm of rain fell across the UK over the three months - June, July and August. That compares with a normal average UK rainfall of 241mm.

The worst hit regions have been the north west of England and north Wales with 475mm of rain, representing 171% above the seasonal norm. The West Country has also suffered badly, recording rainfall at 450mm or 184% above average summer figures.

In percentage terms the south east did not fare much better with 180% more rain than usual but its overall figure of 290mm, reflecting the relative dryness of the region, is much lower than areas further north and west.

The Environment Agency has issued more than 1,000 river flood alerts and warnings between 1 June and 15 July, the highest number in five years.

Summer 2012 is also likely to be one of the dullest summers on record, with just 399 hours of sunshine up to 28 August.

It is the dullest summer since 1980, when the UK saw only 396 hours of sunshine. The only region to have escaped the deluge is the far north of Scotland which recorded just 85% of its summer rainfall.

The wet weather has hit harvest efforts.

Northumberland farmer Glen Sanderson, Eshott South Farm, Felton, has been left fighting a battle with slugs.

"It's miserable - we're all getting really grumpy and fed up," Mr Sanderson said. "It's definitely the worst harvest we've ever had, as it's a triple whammy.

"Not only is it wet, but we've got really poor yields and penalties for low bushel weights. Financially it's going to be exceptionally difficult. We've managed to get some rapeseed direct drilled, as the land is too waterlogged to plough, and it's now a fighting battle between the seed and slugs in their millions. It's all a bit worrying."
Glen Sanderson, Eshott South Farm

"Not only is it wet, but we've got really poor yields and penalties for low bushel weights. Financially it's going to be exceptionally difficult. We've managed to get some rapeseed direct drilled, as the land is too waterlogged to plough, and it's now a fighting battle between the seed and slugs in their millions. It's all a bit worrying."

Richard Solari in Shropshire added: "Ground conditions are wet here - we've had to abandon some barley and we would have only harvested half the potatoes we have without our wheel-drive harvester.

Mr Solari who farms Heath House Farm, Beckbury, told Farmers Weekly: "Wheat yields and bushel weights are disappointing, and we've got secondary growth in the oats. But I've heard some horror stories, so I am complaining one minute and grateful the next."

In the West Country, Cornish farmer Martin Howlett, of Deer Park Farm, Callington said harvest had been a frustrating time. "We didn't start combining winter barley until about three weeks ago." Yields were 1.2t/ha lower than normal, at 5-5.3t/ha. "The rest is lying on the ground because the heads had dropped. And we've made a hell of a mess of the fields picking the straw up because it's been so wet."

Although Mr Howlett didn't grow winter wheat, many fields in the area were starting to grow out in the ear, he said. "Many people have barely touched their wheat yet."

More on this topic

For the all the latest harvest news visit the Harvest Highlights page.

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