Harvest 2016: Freak hail storm decimates OSR and wheat crops

Hail damaged oilseed rape crop

Hail shattered oilseed rape pods, destroying up to 50% of the crop in worst cases © Jamie Stokes

Growers in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire are reporting heavy crop losses after a violent hail storm ripped through central England on Wednesday afternoon (20 July).

Oilseed rape crops in the Huntingdon area of Cambridgeshire took a beating from the unforecast storm, shattering up to 50% of pods and putting an abrupt end to harvest.

Jamie Stokes, who was gearing up to harvest about 300ha of rapeseed in Huntingdon early next week, says the sudden change of weather was very localised with 30mm of rain falling in about 15 minutes.

See also: Promising start to barley harvest on Lincolnshire Wolds

“The rain was so heavy with huge hail stones that were the size of pennies and the wind was very strong. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he told Farmers Weekly.

Mr Stokes estimates that the freak storm destroyed about half of the pods on 30% of his crop, but said that he is hearing of up to 50% crop loss on neighbouring farms.

Close up of shattered oilseed rape pods

© Jamie Stokes

“It was a very narrow band of clouds so it was quite localised, but I know of five or six local farmers who were hit by it.”

Fortunately Mr Stokes’ winter barley harvest is progressing well, with the feed variety Glacier yielding 8.5-9t/ha and producing a reasonable quality sample. 

Grower Stewart Robinson, who farms just outside Huntingdon, was also struck by the storm at around 4.30pm and sustained major losses to his rapeseed crop.

Meanwhile in south Lincolnshire, hail battered wheat crops at Worth Farms near Spalding, stripping grain from the heads.

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