11 tweets showing the high cost of the autumn drought

A severe lack of soil moisture is causing major worries for growers with huge areas of parched crops either stunted by prolonged arid conditions or choked off altogether.

Crops in East Anglia, the South-East and parts of the Midlands have been hit hardest by limited rainfall since September.

Last week a survey of AICC agronomists revealed that a staggering 9% of oilseed rape across 18 English counties is thought to have been written off by drought.

See also: Drought and flea beetle wipe out 70,000ha of English oilseed rape

Hertfordshire, Essex and Bedfordshire are among the counties where crop establishment has been worst affected by dry soils.

County % crop lost to dry conditions
Hertfordshire 45%
Essex 45%
Bedfordshire 26%
Northamptonshire 19%
Suffolk 11%
Cambridgeshire 10%
Kent 10%
West Sussex 10%

Hampshire-based agronomist Sam Deane says the drought has turned ploughed land rock solid.

Harry Mouland says it has been so dry in his part of Essex that he’s only just been able to spray off his first blackgrass chit of the autumn and is now hoping for rain.

Essex grower and NFU vice-president Guy Smith uses the hashtag #essexdesert to describe the arid conditions. His August drilled oilseed rape has failed to establish as a result.

Ian Lutey adds that blackgrass is still emerging despite the drought.

Yorkshire grower David Blacker is also concerned about winter beans being drilled into dry seed-beds.

The effectiveness of pre-emergence herbicides is also taking a knock in some areas.

Seed germination and crop establishment has been badly impacted in areas of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Cambridgeshire grower Kevin Hull is one of many growers who has had to write off oilseed rape crops and redrill.

In Thriplow, Cambridgeshire, David Walston reports dry soils, even at depth.

Fellow Cambridgeshire grower Russell McKenzie finished his wheat drilling campaign in a cloud of dust.

Even in the typically wetter west, Dorset and Wiltshire-based agronomist Todd Jex says crops needed rain, although this has encouraged another flush of blackgrass.

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