July 29, 2022 8.30 am This story is over 23 months old

Low rainfall causes ‘disastrous’ potato harvest in Spalding

We’ve only had 4% of the average rainfall this month

A Spalding farmer has told how his potato crop has grown at half the normal size and number as a result of the driest growing season in more than 40 years.

The East of England provides vegetables for the nation, but Andrew Branton says this year’s harvest is nothing less than a disaster.

Andrew says: “There’s just no way that crops in the UK can cope with the climate we’ve had this year – lack of water, intense temperatures – you just can’t reverse this process.”

Andrew Branton says weather is to dry and the damage to his crops ‘can’t be reversed’. | Screenshot: BBC Look North/BBC News Hub

Regan Harris from Anglian Water says: “This month we’ve only had 4% of the rainfall we would normally expect in July. We’re not worried this year, but it would give us cause for concern if we had a further dry winter looking into spring and summer for next year.”

The environment agency is considering emergency restrictions on the businesses and farms who are normally allowed to take water from rivers as water levels get low.

Whilst we’re not yet in an official drought – Yorkshire Water says supplies are slightly lower than normal and Anglian Water doesn’t envisage a hosepipe ban – rain and lower temperatures are badly needed if the bread basket of England is to produce enough food for all of us in the months ahead.

Dry, scorched potato plants at Andrew Branton’s farm. | Screenshot: BBC Look North/BBC News Hub

Rainfall was well below average for the three months up until the end of June for all of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire | Screenshot: Environment Agency/BBC Look North/BBC News Hub