13 November 1998

East Anglia too dry for sugar?

SUGAR factories in eastern England could be left high and dry if scientists claims for global warming are correct.

Their models suggest the south and east will get drier, perpetuating recent drought conditions, and the north and west wetter. Scientists are already assessing the possible effects of such climate changes on crop productivity.

One recent study was carried out by a team from the Institute of Grassland Research and the Welsh Institute of Rural Studies at Aberystwyth and University College, London. Analysis of 30 years climate data and sugar beet yields confirm the crop is currently grown in the best area.

But when climate change scenarios are added to the model, East Anglia becomes too dry, and the optimum area for beet shifts to the south and west, with an increase in production in the West Midlands.

The scientists concede that many other factors will influence production, but conclude that the current location of processing plants could be less than ideal. &#42