28 April 2000
Wettest April ever wreaks farm havoc
By FWi staff
THE month of April was the wettest since records began in parts of the country, delaying spring sowing and causing problems for livestock farmers.
In southern England, spring showers turned to torrents as Southampton recorded its wettest April since 1856, according to the Meteorological Office..
Rainfall records were broken in eastern parts of England before Easter. By that time, 94.2mm of rain had been recorded at Waddington, Lincolnshire.
The North Somerset cattle show was cancelled for the first time in its 144-year history. Farmers were forced to bring turned-out livestock back indoors.
In Scotland, where lambing is still under way, some farmers reported losing up to 10% of lambs to hypothermia as the wet weather brought low temperatures.
Agricultural contractors up and down the country said the wet weather over the past 10 days was terrible, with rain bringing many operations to a standstill.
Cumbrian contractor Kevin Horsley said he would probably have to take on more staff to help get things done once the weather did finally clear.
“We are still trying to finish spring drilling and have the maize to do,” he said. “If it carries on much longer we are going to be running into the silage,”
In Cornwall, contractor Graham Couch of Bodwen Farm, near Bodmin, said his timetable had probably slipped backwards by as much as a fortnight.
He added: “We have done no maize yet and we have usually finished all that by the start of May.”
Farmers were forced to use valuable silage stocks kept back in case of a summer drought, reported the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.
The nutritional quality of pasture grass is suffering – in some cases badly. If the grass grows too long, milk yields could be adversely affected.