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.
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.
Mulika wheat drilled early. Looked a treat 4 weeks ago now ruined with the dry weather. pic.twitter.com/daZv5QJtyH
— Adrian Baker (@Adrian__Baker) May 29, 2020
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.
— Jake Freestone (@No1FarmerJake) May 30, 2020
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.
Dear Weather Gods, these peas have performed stoically, heroically and uncomplainingly with the mere 24mm of rain they have received since their in inception in late March. Another 24mm now is really the least they deserve. pic.twitter.com/QT04ra3MNC
— Guy Smith (@essexpeasant) June 4, 2020
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.
— Dr Elizabeth Chapman (@LizCh) May 28, 2020
Essex grower David Lord explains how the drought has caused his wildflower margin to be more profitable than his conventional crop of spring wheat.
— David Lord (@essexwindyfarm) June 3, 2020
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.
Busy day getting a new Harry’s Farm video recorded and then edited. Pleased to report it’s just gone live..
First it was floods, now it’s drought. 2020 isn’t going well on Harry’s … https://t.co/Ub3qDDJ2C7 via @YouTube
— Harry Metcalfe (@harrym_vids) May 30, 2020
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.
— Martin Lawrenson (@MartinLawrenso1) May 31, 2020
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.
Rye looks generally well considering the lack of rain, although on the light land leaves are rolling up tight & in the very light gravelly patches flag leaves have given up & burnt off already! #needrain pic.twitter.com/Wwf1WfsegE
— Rosemary Hall (@cropresearchse1) May 31, 2020