March 1 (Bloomberg) -- Planting of winter crops in the U.K. probably was 20 percent smaller than a year earlier as excess rain muddied fields, the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board said.
Farmers have made “no significant” progress on planting winter crops since November, the AHDB said today in an e-mailed report compiled with consultancy ADAS U.K. Ltd. The country had about 150 percent of the normal amount of rain since September. Ten percent of the winter wheat area and 20 percent of rapeseed is “of questionable viability,” the AHDB said. The U.K. had its second-wettest year on record last year, according to the Met Office.
“Established crops grew only slowly in the wet and cold soils,” the AHDB said. “Slugs continued to be a problem for many and contributed to expected crop failures of oilseed rape area and wheat.”
Farmers had only planted about 75 percent of their expected wheat area as of late November, with western areas seeing the biggest drop, according to the report. Just 65 percent of crops were tillering, the leaf-development stage most crops would have reached by now in a normal year, AHDB said. Barley crops also have been slow to develop and may have lower yields, according to the report.
Delays in last year’s harvest meant fewer rapeseed fields were sown than normal, and some poorly established crops may be replanted with spring varieties, the AHDB said. Farmers also weren’t able to apply some herbicides because of wet weather since November, leaving rapeseed crops susceptible to black grass and other weeds, according to the report.
Drier weather in late February has allowed farmers to plant some spring grain and field bean crops, along with “very late” winter wheat, the AHDB said. Spring rapeseed, peas and linseed probably won’t be planted until soil temperatures increase.
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