Twitter round-up: Drought-hit crops desperate for rain

May 2020 has been the sunniest and driest calendar month on record, leaving growers across the UK in desperate need for rain to save their crops from the exceptionally dry conditions.

With an average of 266 hours of sunlight and less than 10mm of rain last month, crop yields could be hit by up to half this harvest, which would see farmers taking a huge economic hit.

Fortunately, some growers have been lucky enough to catch a few showers of rain this week, but for many, this has been an insignificant amount to repair the yield damage caused by the drought.

See also: Rain to offer relief for parched crops after driest May

Growers, agronomists and researchers have been raising their concerns on Twitter over drought-affected fields and how they are in need of more rain to boost yields this harvest.

Farm manager Adrian Baker, who works for FB Parrish and Son in Bedfordshire, is devastated that his crop of Mulika wheat has been struck by the dry weather, after it was looking so well a month ago.

Jake Freestone, arable and sheep farmer in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, shares this devastating picture of his Crusoe wheat, which has lost at least half of its green leaf area through drought stress.

Essex farmer, Guy Smith also raises his concerns over his winter wheat crop, which he believes has lost 5t/ha in yield.

Not only wheat crops are suffering – Guy Smith’s pea crop has also been starved of water, receiving just 24mm of rain since March and are in desperate need of more.

Elizabeth Chapman, who has a doctorate in wheat genetics, shares this unusual picture of spring wheat out in ear before the end of May. Crops are extremely stressed, as they suffer from both rain and nitrogen deficiency.

Essex grower David Lord explains how the drought has caused his wildflower margin to be more profitable than his conventional crop of spring wheat.

Cotswolds farmer Harry Metcalfe shares his latest video on YouTube, where he airs his concerns that the wet winter and now dry spring will have on the UK national wheat harvest. Just 7-8m tonnes of wheat is now forecast to be harvested, nearly half of the 16.5m tonnes usually produced.

On a more positive note, Martin Lawrenson, who farms in the north-west of England, in Pilling, near Preston, has been recently walking his crops, which are surviving the drought OK.

Rosemary Hall, Crop Research Services owner and technical consultant for Jordans Ryvita in oats and rye, is also generally pleased with her crop of rye, despite the lack of rain. However, crops on light land are beginning to suffer, with leaves now burning up.

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