Farmers who battled against the elements to ensure theEnglish wheat crop survived the torrid weather conditions of 2012 have seenhigh quality from their harvest but gathered a smaller crop despite the goodharvesting conditions.
The NFU said that as a net importer of food, the UK muststart to produce more itself and called on Government to deliver on itspromises to improve long-neglected agricultural research and knowledge exchangeto help weather-proof British crops.
A reverse in the decline of spend for agricultural R&Dis crucial if we are to increase production and impact less on the environmentin years to come, particularly if extreme weather events become more frequent,said NFU combinable crops board chairman Andrew Watts.
Innovation and technology are vital in keeping cropshealthy and resilient, yet this technology has been under a sustained andunwarranted attack recently, and the impacts could be grave for the industry.The last thing we want is for legislators to regulate the UK and EU out ofarable production by undermining access to pesticides and products that will bevital to protect the crops of the future.
The NFUs 2013 Harvest Survey, published today, revealedthat the overall wheat yield is up 16 per cent on 2012, at 7.8 tonnes perhectare, and slightly up on the five-year average of 7.7 tonnes per hectare.However, total production looks set to be much lower than the 13 million tonnesproduced last year.
Mr Watts said as a result we should expect to see the UKimporting above-normal volumes of wheat for the second year running, but thatthe high quality meant much more of what has been harvested would be of valueto the food industry this year.
Farmers worked really hard to get this years crop up andrunning, but with planting down by 19 per cent, Im not surprised overall wheatproduction is down, he said.
Many arable farmers are still working under the shadow of2012s appalling weather and the knock-on impact this has had. For most, theproblem is now in the office; working to balance the books, cover productioncosts and, looking ahead to next year, Im hoping we can move on to a more positiveoutlook.
It is important to remember that we have seen some verygood yields coming from what wheat was left after the winter this year. If, aswe are seeing, the quality is excellent, that will be some comfort forproducers. I would hope it would mean British companies using a higherproportion of British wheat in their products, which would be good news forconsumers who are looking more and more for British produce.
Farmers know this industry is a long game. I think we areall relieved to draw a line under this season. Lets hope we can make a goodstart planting this autumn and, weather willing, see a productive harvest nextyear.