Farming Week by Week
How the weather has affected farming in 2018.
As we are all going back to school after the summer holidays I am sure many of us will look back happily at the lovely weather we had this summer. But this weather came at a price for farmers in general but especially for tillage farmers. 2018 was a hard year for farmers due to 2 main weather crises. In late February and the start of March there was heavy snowfall across the country which had a serious effect on farming. The snow delayed the sowing of the cereal crops such as spring wheat, barley, corn, beans and oil seed rape. This was because the soil was frozen and unsuitable for ploughing or planting and as a result of this most crops were planted 4-6 weeks later than usual. This shortened the growing season considerably and the crops missed out on the Spring growth. The snow also had a serious effect on pastoral farmers who had to delay putting their livestock out to graze until March or April due to poor grass growth and bad ground conditions. The poor grass growth meant that many farmers had to use additional fodder in Spring to feed their animals.
This short Spring was followed by a harsh summer with the severe drought in June and July that lasted 41 days. This had a drought had a major effect on the crops growth during these months. For many farmers their crop yield per acre was down a considerable amount from previous years. The bean crop for example dropped from an average of a 3 ton per acre yield to a 2 ton per acre yield this harvest. Grass growth practically stopped in June and July which put further pressure on pastoral farmers. The effects of this will not only be seen this year put possibly into next year in the form of a fodder crisis or cash flow problems. The cutting of hay and silage wasn’t an option for many farmers this year so there may be a shortage of feed for animals this winter.
In an industry like farming where the margins for farmers are being squeezed each year, weather crises like these have a huge effect on the industry and the people involved in the industry. Profits will be down for 2018 across all sectors of farming, tillage in particular will have taken a heavy hit. But if the weather warnings are true then weather events like the 2 we had this year will become more and more common and we will all have to learn to adapt and do things differently especially farmers.
Authors – Neville Bennett and Tom Donald