Flooding and severe snowfalls over the winter are likely to affect this year's wheat harvest, reducing it by almost 30% on last year. The National Farmers' Union says figures show the area planted with winter wheat was down by a quarter on the previous year. Bad weather has had a further impact.
If the results of the snapshot poll are repeated nationally, wheat production will be below average for the second year in a row. A separate NFU survey revealed 45% of arable farmers are less confident about the prospects for their farm businesses in the next 12 months compared with last year.
Our poll is a snapshot but it is extremely worrying that planted area remaining viable for 2013 harvest on those farms looks set to be 29% smaller than last year. If this plays out nationally, we will be below average production for the second year in a row. The saving grace in past years has been crop protection technology which can help maintain yield potential and all important grain quality by guarding against pests and ensure crops are more drought and flood resistant.
But lobbying has forced restrictions on the use of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which are being banned over concerns about their impact on bees, and fungicides known as triazoles are also facing potential restrictions which could further impact on yields.
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Dry at first with sharp showers later