Farmers told - water only at night

FARMERS across our area have been told to water their crops only at night raising fears of lower yields and higher prices for some vegetables this winter.

The Cambridgeshire Fens has officially been declared a drought area this week by the Environment Agency.

It follows the driest spring since records began with Fenland receiving around a 10th of its normally expected rainfall since February.

Last month the Citizen reported how many crops were already suffering because of the seasonally warm weather with some apple and plum crops being particularly badly affected.

Now it looks likely the potato and carrot crops could suffer as farmers are told to cut back their watering.

They have been asked to water only at night in a bid to safeguard supplies and stop the loss of moisture through evaporation.

Newton farmer John Hoyles said the dry weather is having a double affect on potato crops if farmers are not allowed to water sufficiently.

The lack of proper watering will affect both quality and quantity.

“Potatoes need water at a certain time, and that time is now, to help with quality. If they do not get enough water then you can get skin blemishes from Common Scab and supermarkets don’t like to see that. This means the potatoes may have to be sold for lesser quality and less money.

“Water is also needed to ensure the quantity. It is difficult to say what effect that will have on prices this winter. It could mean more imports being sucked in, but the problem is not confined to this country, the whole of northern Europe have the same problems,” said Mr Hoyles.

He also emphasised that farmers are very responsible in the way they water.

“They can’t afford to waste water because of the expense of it and it is not cheap to pump it either.,” added Mr Hoyles. however, good news for gardeners, as Anglian Water announced last month they were not expecting tmpose a hose pipe ban, even if the dry weather continues, as reservoirs are at 90 per cent capacity.