UK farmers lament “worst year in living memory” for food production
“It’s been the worst year in living memory,” says Jonathan Lukies, who farms 288 hectares (720 acres) of arable and fruit orchards near Stansted, Essex. “It was horrific.”
This year’s weather has been a rollercoaster for British farmers that most now just want to forget. With a record drought afflicting most of England in the early spring – one so severe it prompted a series of emergency meetings with government – farmers desperately needed above-average rainfall to replenish the soil for planting. Their prayers for rain were answered – but in the worst possible way, with the wettest early summer ever recorded, followed by a near-sunless summer and torrential downpours in many areas late in the growing season.
This combination of extreme weather was disastrous for staple crops such as wheat and vegetables, first putting off growth and then washing out crops and preventing them from ripening.