Shropshire farmers say they have endured one of the hardest harvests in living memory as a summer of downpours impacts on crops.
Near relentless rain throughout the summer months has meant that farmers have had short windows to collect their crops, leaving many still in the fields, while the quality of the end product has also suffered. Now many farmers in Shropshire are looking at losing out on cash for their grain.
Despite grain values around the world soaring, many farmers in Shropshire are ill-positioned to take advantage of the strong prices.
The weather has also meant that the window for planting winter cereals is also very small, and some farmers are struggling to plant all their crops before the end of October.
Arthur Hill, from CH Hill & Son near Much Wenlock, has been a partner in the cereal business since 1971, and said he had never seen a year like it.
“It has certainly been the most difficult harvest that I can ever remember,” he said.
“It’s very difficult out there, and could affect what happens to next year’s harvest. We are planting as fast as we can.
“You have got to get on and be positive.
“In some cases there’s 15 to 20 per cent of the harvest out there as farmers haven’t had the chance to get it.”
The value of some products had fallen because the shortage of sunlight had led to a lack of starch in the grain, he added.
NFU regional director John Mercer said: “This year’s harvest has been exceptionally difficult for Shropshire farmers, one of the latest in some years, and we have not seen anything like it for quite some time thanks to a wet, cloudy early summer and then downpour after downpour.
“Despite challenging field conditions the improved wea- ther in September allowed county farmers to get on with it but yields, especially for wheat, are down. Winter barley and oilseed rape appear to have fared better. Shropshire farmers are a resilient bunch though.”