UK wheat yields lowest since late 1980s - farmers

LONDON Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:09pm BST

Meagan Williamson, 12, runs through a field of wheat in Kirby Hill, northern England July 26, 2011. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Meagan Williamson, 12, runs through a field of wheat in Kirby Hill, northern England July 26, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Nigel Roddis

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LONDON (Reuters) - Wheat yields in Britain this year have been the lowest since the late 1980s, the National Farmers Union said on Wednesday issuing results of a harvest survey.

The NFU estimated that UK wheat harvest at 13.25 million with a yield of 6.7 tonnes per hectare, down from five-year averages of 14.92 million and 7.8 tonnes respectively.

NFU combinable crops advisor Guy Gagen said in a statement that yields have been depressed by abnormally high rainfall across the UK since early summer.

"We have seen a relatively low wheat yield this year, below seven tonnes per hectare. This is something not seen in the UK since the late 1980s," he said.

Crop consultants ADAS in a report issued earlier this month said it expected the average yield to be at the lower end of a range of 6.8 to 7.2 tonnes per hectare.

ADAS cited several factors for the poor harvest including high levels of disease and a lack of sunshine during the key grain fill period.

The NFU forecast the UK rapeseed crop would total 2.755 million tonnes, up 25.5 percent from the five-year average of 2.196 million.

The estimate was barely changed from last year's record 2.758 million with lower yields offset by higher plantings.

Rapeseed yields were seen at 3.6 tonnes per hectare, up from a five-year average of 3.4 tonnes but below last year's record 3.9 tonnes.

The yield forecast was slightly higher than a forecast by ADAS of 3.5 tonnes per hectare.

(Reporting by Nigel Hunt, editing by William Hardy)

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