Rain beats farmers’ crops down by a third

Ryan Bywater from NPB Farm has suffered with the bad summer, had delays, broken equipment etc. (H502D232)
Ryan Bywater from NPB Farm has suffered with the bad summer, had delays, broken equipment etc. (H502D232)

Farmers are running a month behind and facing low profits as this summer’s rain has caused damage to their machinery and a 30 per cent reduction in crop yields.

Farmer Nigel Bywater, 59, said it has been the worse year he has seen since he began farming aged 15 on his farm in North Elmsall, where he runs NPB Farm Contractors.

The family business, run with his son Ryan, 28, and wife Gillian, 57, is working a month behind on harvesting after the constant rain has kept them out of their fields.

And they are predicting a 30 per cent drop in profits as the rain has knocked the top off many of their crops, reducing their yields.

Ryan said: “Everything is delayed by at least a month and it’s going to all have a knock-on effect for next year too. This time last year we had finished combining and this year we haven’t even started some of it because it’s so wet – and it’s cost us an extra few thousand pounds on drying the crops.”

The farmers have also had to fork out extra cash for damage to their bailer, which puts hay into bails, and combine harvester after parts of the machines bent from being stuck in mud on the wet fields.

His father said: “We’re having to spend money on manpower for them to be standing around and not able to get anything done, and then we have the extra costs and time of having to fix and clean the machinery.

“It’s the worst year I’ve seen since I started farming when I was 15, and lots of people have said the same.

“This time last year we were putting seed in for next year but we can’t do that if this year’s is still in so we’ll be behind next year.

“It’s not just us though, it’s all farmers and vegetable growers. And it’ll effect all of us because we’re producing less so the price of food will go up.”

A statement from the National Farmers Union said the bad weather has caused the cereal harvest to start late.

It said: “This summer’s relentless rain has made this year’s growing season very difficult for all farmers.

“Not only are crops struggling, but waterlogged ground makes it very difficult for farmers to get on their fields with heavy farm machinery to take remedial action or indeed to get their harvest started.

“The cereals harvest is late starting and this means it’s hard to say just at the moment what the full impact of the weather will be.”