Heavy rain a repeat of last year?

24 October 2001

Heavy rain a repeat of last year?

By Tom Allen-Stevens and Andrew Swallow

GROWERS efforts to complete autumn cereal work and finish potato and sugar beet harvests continue to be hampered by the weather.

The Meteorological Office has issued eight flood warnings on Friday (26 October), mostly in Wales and the West Midlands, as up to 40mm fell in places.

One of the arable areas worst hit on Friday was Yorkshire, where Jonathan Trenholme, with 200ha of heavy arable land is tearing his hair out.

“It has absolutely bucketed down from 9.30 this morning to 3.30 this afternoon. Its as bad as last year, he told FWi.

He still has 40% of his drilling left to do, which he has not touched for over a week.

“Anything heavy has been ploughing up terribly wet. I wish Id never planted any spring crops last season so that I could have got on with drilling earlier.

For Robin Bosonworth, growing potatoes nearby, its a similar picture.

“We are struggling. Weve got 40% of our crop left and its all on heavy land.

Nationally some progress has been made, with about 80% now lifted, reports British Potato Councils Rob Burrow.

East Anglia is still the main concern where around 25% is still left to be harvested.

“Itll need a couple of weeks of dry weather in order to get it in by the end of November. Its not yet as bad as it was last year.

But this is cold comfort to Charles Tabor, near Rochford in Essex who has fitted powered drive wheels to his Grimme harvester in order to get the last 34ha in.

“Were not getting on very well. There are some I dont think well get at all.

Meanwhile the agronomic warnings continue for cereal crops growing fast in the warm conditions, with net blotch on barley being the latest to look out for.

High levels of the disease have been observed on crops of Regina winter barley in the South west and on Pearl in the Norfolk area, said Dalgetys Bob Bulmer.

He advises that growers noting infections should only act when levels of the disease are greater than 40%.

“Growers should be on the look out for net blotch infections and should treat with a fungicide that does not contain carbendazim.

“This fungicide can actually encourage net blotch in the long-term.”

But this is not a repeat of last year, says Met Office spokesman Sean Clarke. “There isnt the sheer volume of rain we experienced last year.

Weather patterns are also different, with depressions moving across the country, while last year a stationary low brought in a succession of frontal systems.

More heavy rain is expected to fall overnight and on Staurday, especially in Scotland, with conditions generally improving on Sunday.

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