Threat of stunted crop growth as dry conditions hit East Anglia

Growers in East Anglia are hoping for rain later this week as spring crops are beginning to suffer as a result of the prolonged dry spell.

Strutt & Parker agronomist Jock Willmott told the Farmers Weekly that growers in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire have had little or no rainfall at all in recent weeks.

He said: “It is starting to have an affect on the lightest of land. Growers in my area haven’t had much more than 10mm but some haven’t had any rainfall.

“They are really hoping that they will get some rain later this week. It’s going to be a slow push to mid-May for some.”

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He added that although spring-drilled crop growth on the very light land is slow, the lack of rain does mean that diseases are being kept at bay.

He advises caution if farmers are thinking about using plant growth regulators in the coming days, because crops are starting to be stunted by the parched conditions.

A short distance away in Suffolk, grower Andrew Blenkiron has begun irrigating his potato and onion crops and says that the dry top soil will become a real concern for him in the coming weeks.

“It has got to the point where we have started irrigating our root vegetables and of course that has cost implications. The topsoil is getting pretty dry if you dig down there is still enough moisture.

“The lack of rain isn’t a headache just yet, but it will cause us great concern in a week or two if we don’t get the rain.”

He said that his spring barley is starting to show signs of stress but put that down to the cold soil temperatures, rather than a water shortage.

“It is keeping a lid on growth and I’d say we are one to two weeks behind where we normally would be for this time of year,” he added.

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