Mixed picture for growers

SOUTH Lincolnshire growers are counting the cost of what is expected to be one of the wettest summers on record.

Farmers such as specialist lettuce grower David Piccaver, of Gedney Drove End, has had to resort to switching staff from farming to drainage at one point when a field was turned into a two-acre lake.

He said when things were at their worst, half of the staff were pumping water into waiting tankers, while the other half were digging an emergency channel to drain away surface water.

Despite their best efforts, he predicts the field will yield only a third of what it normally would. Overall, David says it’s the worst year since the family started farming there 90 years ago, with lost revenue estimated at £750,000.

For Lincolnshire Field Products, based in Spalding, the weather has put the brussels sprouts harvest back to mid-September and managing director Martin Tate believes the exceptional conditions have lost the business £500,000, and possible up to £1m, depending on the weather in the next few months.

Generally, while farmers are making good progress with the harvest, wheat yields and quality have been variable, with some East Anglian farmers experiencing the best in recent years, others the worst.

Oilseed rape yields are estimated to be down about 10 per cent on last year, although spring barley is said to be producing good yields with excellent quality.