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Heavy Rains, Cold Spring Shrink UK Wheat Crop

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Soggy soil conditions from heavy fall rains and “the coldest spring temperatures in 50 years” may have taken a big bite out of Britain’s wheat crop this year—as much as 30 percent, according to the National Farmers Union.

The NFU drew its conclusions after polling 76 cereal growers covering 40,000 acres of land.

“Our poll is a snapshot but is extremely worrying,” NFU crops chair Andrew Watts said in the Guardian. “If this plays out nationally, we will be below average production for the second year in a row…If the experts are to be believed and extreme weather is to become more frequent, we must look at ways of supporting the industry.”

Britain is the third-largest wheat grower in the European Union and has traditionally been an exporter of the staple grain.

“‘Normally we export around 2.5m tonnes of wheat but this year we expect to have to import 2.5m tonnes,’ said Charlotte Garbutt, a senior analyst at the industry-financed Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board” (ibid.).

The extreme weather conditions may force Britain to import wheat for the first time in more than a decade.

“[Mr. Watts] said the continually wet weather during planting time, between September and December, resulted in less wheat being planted,” BBC reported. “He also said subsequent bad weather, including flooding and snowfalls, had not been conducive to a high yield.”

Despite the diminished crops, grain prices are not expected to increase, according to the media outlet.

“Alex Waugh, from the National Association of British and Irish Millers, said the lower-than-normal crop yield was not good news for farmers but it was unlikely on its own to make a difference to consumers in the UK.

“‘What happens in the UK depends on what is going on internationally,’ he said…‘Grain prices in the UK are only likely to rise if they are also rising elsewhere in the world.’”

Still, food manufacturers are feeling the pinch. According to the Guardian, “…cereal food producer Weetabix had to halt production of some of its breakfast cereals as a result of the disastrous wheat harvest in April.”


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