Drought affects Shropshire crops

Bruce Udale in Telford, Shropshire has had no rain this harvest and said it was too late for the forecast rain to do any good, since he expected to finish in two or three days.

“Wheat yields have not been very good, particularly on the late-sown light land. We grew some continuous wheat and that has also not done very well.”

Across 520ha (1300ac) yields were 7.5-10t/ha (3-4t/ac) which he said was 0.6t/ha (0.25t/ac) down on last year. “It was purely due to the drought. The crops had looked well. It would have been a very good year if we had rain as we had plenty of plants and heads.”

There was little difference between the varieties Napier, Access, Robigus and Einstein, with variation depending on the soil type. He said quality was good on the heavier land, but the grain was shrivelled on the light land.

“We should be starting harvest now, not finishing. You can’t expect a crop to do its fullest if it’s a fortnight early.”

Next year he planned to grow Alchemy, Robigus and a little Ambrosia. He planned to drop Napier. “It’s getting past its sell-by date. It was all fallen over which is not so good when you haven’t had storms.”

With 80ha (200ac) of sugar beet disappearing due to the factory closure in Shropshire, Mr Udale planned to grow peas on the light land and oats on the stronger land. After an increase in oilseed rape, the rest would be wheat.

He has already sold some of his wheat. “I’m sitting on the rest. We’re anticipating the price to be £100. It’s time to talk to price up – one day they’ll need us farmers!”

• Crop: Winter wheat
• Variety: Napier, Access, Robigus, Einstein
• Area: 520ha
• Yield: 7.5-10t/ha


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