Harvest 2004: Sodden shocker

CONCERNS for ripening crops are growing as a July “shocker” of high winds and heavy rain lash across the UK.

Harvest is underway in Oxfordshire, according to reports on FARMERS WEEKLY Harvest Highlights , but combines have now been sent scuttling back into sheds.

Forecasters warned that winds gusting up to 50 mph and heavy downpours bringing up to 70mm in places would make it feel more like November than July.

“There‘s a deepening low that‘s developed over Spain and France that has moved up to centre over the Channel Islands,” said PA Weather forecaster Rachel Vince.

“The heavy rain will continue to push northwards over England and Wales tonight and then slide away eastwards tomorrow.”

The Met Office called the conditions a “July shocker” and issued a severe weather warning for most of the south of the UK.

The Channel Islands had received 18mm of rain in just six hours up to midday, while winds had gusted to 45mph, even in non-exposed inland sites.

“This is unusual for July – we‘d usually associate this sort of weather with autumn. I should think there‘s a fair bit of crop damage out there.”

The weather has brought an abrupt end  to harvest in Oxfordshire, where Jonathan Edwards had just started on his Carat winter barley.

“It‘s the wheat and spring barley I‘m worried about – I hate to think what they‘ll look like tomorrow,” he said.

Just down the road Anthony Allen managed to finish  an early-ripening 15ha (38 acres) of Siberia just as the rain settled in.

“I should think this wind is knocking hell out of our beans,” he said.

As well as the high winds and heavy rain, temperatures are below average, according to forecasters.

An “exceptionally chilly” high of just 13°C is expected in the Midlands on Thursday (July 8), said PA‘s Ms Vince.

“Winds will die down, but there is every indication it will remain unsettled into next week,” she added.

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