28 June 2002

Rain wreaks havoc on Ulster crops

SPRING barley, Northern Irelands main cereal crop, is suffering badly after being hit by about 50% more rain than normal over the past month or so.

"My fields look as though they have already been yield-mapped, with light green, yellow and brown patches," says farmers weekly barometer farmer Robert Craig, who expects yields to be down at least 20-30%.

"It is simply down to waterlogging. We have had only seven dry days in seven weeks. I was looking for 3t/acre, but now I dont expect much more than 2t, and some other crops in the area will struggle to do 1t/acre."

"I believe many farms could be heading for disaster."

Ulster Farmers Union president, John Gilliland, agrees things look bad. "In May we had 181% of our 30-year average rainfall. Many spring barleys will be lucky if they do 1t/acre."

Main requirement is for the authorities to recognise the problem and be accommodating when assessing planted areas, he says. &#42

NI WASH-OUT

&#8226 Spring barley hard hit.

&#8226 15% of potatoes lost.

&#8226 First-cut silage wrecked.

&#8226 Call for area flexibility.