Survey predicts record wheat harvest

NFU warns crop yields will drop unless the threat posed from EU regulation on active ingredients is lessened

Joe Giddens/PA Wire A farmer harvests the last of his wheat crop
A farmer harvests the last of his wheat crop

The latest NFU harvest survey is predicting the average wheat yield for the UK’s 2014 harvest will have hit a record high, following a summer of near perfect growing conditions for the crop.

It is estimated that this year’s wheat harvest will weigh in at over 8.6 tonnes per hectare - the largest ever and 16% more than in 2013, representing the biggest uplift in 30 years.

However, as regulation from the EU Commission removes and restricts vital active ingredients in crop protection products, the NFU is continuing to lobby for a different way of approaching the situation, allowing for more harvests like the one experienced this year.

The perfect summer for growing conditions contrasted the wettest winter and third warmest spring on record earlier this year, creating favourable conditions for disease in crops.

However, disease was kept at bay with careful management and the appropriate use of available crop protection products, ensuring not only healthy, thriving plants but a high-quality yield.

NFU combinable crops board chairman Mike Hambly said: “This year’s wheat harvest shows how dependent crop yield is on the weather and, as extreme weather events become more frequent, how we as farmers can cope with this.

“Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of the weather but fungicides and insecticides are essential tools allowing us to protect our crops in adverse weather.

“Many of these are under threat from EU Commission regulation and as this legislation hits, in turn, will compromise both the quality and potential yield of wheat.

“If farmers are going to rise to the challenge of producing food amidst climate change and the weather volatility that comes with it, then we need to be allowed to use the most effective active ingredients for the job.

“Research needs Government interest and investment so we can grow crops resilient to all weather conditions.

“Farmers have an important job to do - we need the right regulation in place and access to appropriate chemistry to ensure we can all enjoy and benefit from an abundant and healthy harvest, such as we have had this year. Optimising our productivity allows us to impact less on the environment and meet our responsibilities to the growing global demand for food.”

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