Bloomberg News

U.K. Wheat Needs Rain by April to Avoid Losses, NFU Says

February 22, 2012

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. wheat that’s in the ground and barley soon to be planted need rain by April to prevent potential yield losses, said Guy Gagen, the chief crop adviser at the National Farmers Union.

Drought has persisted in parts of 16 counties in East Anglia, the Midlands and southeast England, the Environment Agency said on Feb. 20. Shropshire and Nottinghamshire in the Midlands are also being affected by dry weather, it said, adding that soil is too dry to recharge plants.

“Crops had enough rain to get them established in the autumn,” Gagen said today at the union’s conference in Birmingham. “At the moment, it’s drier than it should be, but the crops are looking fine because they have enough moisture on the surface. What we have now is a risk going into the spring and the summer that they may run out of water.”

Wheat is particularly at risk if it doesn’t rain, Gagen said, adding barley planting would also suffer. Nearly every county not on the west coast is suffering from dry conditions, he said.

“Wheat is the one that’s most vulnerable. Of course, we have the establishment of spring cropping to come. People are just starting to plant barley and a number are starting to plant maize and they may not establish well if it remains dry.”

--Editors: Sharon Lindores, John Deane

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Tony C. Dreibus at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at

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