Somerset farmers warn of poor crops due to low rainfall

Farmers in Somerset are warning yields from this year's crops will be poor because there has been so little rain.

The county has seen only four inches (10cm) of rain since April compared with May 2009 where there were five inches (12cm) in one month alone.

Mark Pope, who farms near Taunton, said: "Our yields are definitely going to be down on the last two years.

"We won't know how much until we put the combine into the the field."

Mr Pope, who is also the county's National Farmers Union (NFU) spokesman, said his wheat crops were dry and cracked and the roots were just breaking off in the soil.

He said: "If we'd had some rain a fortnight ago that would have been the optimum. We want the sun to come out again - it's much better if we can have a dry harvest now.

"If there is too much rain now the quality will go out of the crop."

Jemma Cooper, from the BBC West weather team, said: "We've had the driest June for 80 years. We had some heavy showers during July which should have compensated for that a little bit.

"And with high pressure still dominating our weather we are not expecting any significant rainfall for the next week."

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