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Suffolk and Norfolk farmers cautiously optimistic as wheat and barley crops soak up good weather

PUBLISHED: 11:45 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:07 28 June 2019

Wheat crops are looking promising - so far  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Wheat crops are looking promising - so far Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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East Anglian farmers are feeling cautiously optimistic about this year's cereal crops after a turn for the better in the weather.

A period of rain combined with warm temperatures has brought relief after a dry start to this year's growing season, and early fears of a repeat of last year's prolonged dry spell through June and July which put crops under severe stress. With two months to go, wheat and barley - which in some other parts of the country took a battering from violent rain storms - look set for a good year.

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Lawrence Morden, of Walnes Seeds at Earl Soham, which is involved in a BASF wheat trial at Moyness Hall, Stonham Aspal, near Stowmarket, said it could be a really good year, with rain arriving just when the crop needed it.

"I think potentially it's got 'very good harvest' written all over it," he said.

Mike Porter, who farms at Walpole, near Halesworth, said: "It's still early days, but things are looking quite promising, provided the Man Above keeps the tap turned off. We don't want too much more water or rainfall, but things look quite promising," he said. "Nothing fantastic, but I don't think we'll be disappointed at the moment - but there's still another two months to go."

His wheat and rape crops were going well, with wheat looking 'slightly above average' and his linseed was looking a lot better than last year, he said.

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Will Mallon, of Little Fransham, near Dereham in Norfolk, said his rape crop was looking 'relatively healthy'. "We could do with a bit more sunshine," he said. "The wheats are looking well. The barleys are looking exceptionally well, and I think the yields and expecttation are possibly going to be above average, but don't count your chickens before they are hatched."

James Forrest, of Moyness Hall, Stonham Aspal, who farms around 1600ha and grows wheat, winter barley, spring beans, oilseed rape, sugar beet, maize and grass crops, said they had benefited from good conditions for establishment.

"I think the winter crops look quite well - I think they look very well, actually," he said. "We had a relatively dry winter. It would have been great to have seen some rain earlier on in the spring to set up particularly the small-seeded crops - crops that you drill quite shallow (like parsley and sugar beet), but we have been very pleased with the rain over the last couple of weeks and the spring crops have pulled around pretty well."

With 10mm of rain falling on Monday night, he said he would like to hope it would be an above average year.

"If we can get all these crops through to harvest now it looks encouraging. I think the most important thing is we have had some wonderful rainfall over the last three weeks. If we have some hot temperatures over the next week or so I hope the crops could be able to withstand them well," he said.

He added: "I'm hopeful for every year's harvest. We have done everything we can do to produce a good crop, but so much of it's in the hands of the weather, and we can do nothing about that at all.

"We have got an excellent team and we do try and get the work done at the right time and tread carefully on the land and we try very hard not to create compaction."

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