Bloomberg News

Cool Weather, Wet Soils Leave U.K. Crops Weeks Behind, ADAS Says

April 12, 2013

Air and soil temperatures have warmed in parts of the U.K. at six weeks to eight weeks behind the average pace, leaving the development of all crops “well behind normal,” consultant ADAS U.K. said.

A gauge of “thermal time,” measured by adding average temperatures above freezing together for a cumulative figure, show that since Sept. 1, there have been 300 day degrees less than the average of the past 30 years, ADAS said today in an online report, citing measurements from Boxworth, England, near Cambridge. As of April 1, degree days matched the total of what normally would have been achieved by early February. Soil temperatures have warmed at a pace six weeks behind normal.

“The slow accumulation of temperature is shown in the growth in crops,” ADAS said. All crops and grass “are well behind normal,” according to the report.

Winter crop area probably dropped by about 20 percent because of excess rain last autumn, and spring plant varieties are being sown in poor conditions, with soils cold and wet, ADAS said. Hay and silage yields probably will decline as grass growth slows, and harvests probably will be delayed.

Most rapeseed crops in the U.K. had six or fewer leaves at the end of March, a time when plants usually are more developed and are increasing in height, ADAS said. Some plants also have lost most of their leaves from pigeon grazing.

Farmers growing horticulture crops in greenhouses face higher energy costs to keep plants warm, and plants are developing behind schedule because of low light levels, ADAS said. Overwintered vegetable crops are developing as much as 5 weeks slower than normal, it said.

While bud development for apple and pear trees is as much as two weeks behind normal, crops tend to fare well when delayed growth is followed by rapidly warming temperatures, ADAS said. Strawberry development is “very late,” which may shorten the window for harvesting and lead to unpicked fruit. The activity of bees, which aid pollination, also has declined, so strawberries may be misshaped.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in London at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.


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