After one of the most challenging summers for many years, the harvest is now in and farmers are starting to count the cost of the extreme weather. Following an unusually cold start, which left farmers struggling to get spring crops in before May, the temperatures soared and the rainfall levels plummeted, leaving many crops struggling.
According to the National Farmers Union Annual Harvest Survey
, average yields have been down across almost all crops, with the exception of oilseed rape:
- Wheat yield: 7.7 t/ha – down 6% on the five-year average
- Winter barley: 6.8t/ha – down 2% on the five year average
- Spring barley: 5.2t/ha – down 10% on the five year average
- Oilseed rape: 3.6t/ha – slightly above the five year average
Figures from the Royal Agricultural University paint an even grimmer picture, with Principle Lecturer, Dr Nicola Cannon, quoted as saying that “arable crops are generally being reported as about 20% down on normal yields”.
High temperatures and water shortages have not only created problems for growing plants, but also reduced the yield from the grains and seeds that have been produced. “Oilseeds and grains have been harvested at very low moisture contents,” explains Dr Cannon. “This means that farmers have lower yields to sell as there is less water retained in the crop.”
Europe Wide Problems
The UK farming industry is not alone in suffering the effects of the 2018 summer. Across Europe, wheat production is down by 10 million tonnes, or 10%, with France losing 20% of its grain harvest, and Italian wheat production down 13%. Eastern Europe has been even harder hit, with the Ukrainian wheat crop reduced by 75% and Moldova harvests down by 80%.
To make matters worse, the 2018 heatwave came hard on the heels of the equally challenging 2017 conditions, when long dry spells in April and May interfered with planting, and a very wet end to the summer caused problems with both growth and harvesting of crops.
The NFU’s Tom Bradshaw says this is making business very difficult for farmers. “The extreme weather events have caused crop yields to become increasingly unpredictable,” he says. “Farmers have experienced an incredible amount of variation in this year’s harvest.”
Kilco and Kersia are here to help
In such uncertain and challenging conditions, it has never been more important to have the support, innovation and experience of Kilco and Kersia behind you. Kersia has doubled in size in the past year, through strategic acquisitions such as Kilco, creating an unrivalled culture of innovation aimed at increasing quality and yield, efficiency and performance for farmers across the food chain.
With all ten of the hottest years on record occurring in the last twenty years, climate change and extreme weather events are here to stay, and the industry needs all the help it can get. From basic hygiene to full biosecurity plans, from disease control to animal feed supplements, Kilco and Kersia are here to help you maximise your productivity whatever challenges the weather throws your way.