Failed wheat and hungry cows: farmers count the cost of a wet winter


But at least there is some wheat growing. The other half of the field has tiny shoots of beans, which will eventually grow into much cheaper cattle feed.

Here the winter wheat, sown in autumn 2023, drowned under the long winter rains.

“You sort of watch it die,” Mr Wilkins reflects, ruefully.

“You put so much effort into planting it, and the money you spend, and then it just fades away. And you have to start again, knowing this will earn you a lot less.”

His family have farmed here for nearly a century, but no-one can remember losing so much wheat to the weather.

Between October 2022 and March 2024, England had 1,695.9mm of rainfall, the wettest 18-month period since records began in 1836.

Mr Collins, the county chairman for the NFU, told me their experience is bad, but not unique.

“Across the county we’ve lost about 15% of all our wheat,” he said.

“The UK as a whole is higher than that, probably 25% down, a quarter down.”

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