April showers bring welcome relief for wheat

Heavy rainfall in April has alleviated immediate concerns about the impact of the sustained dry weather on the UK's wheat crop, although large swathes of England remain in drought.

According to the HGCA, the wet weather has gone some way to "redressing the balance" following an exceptionally dry February and March period, with average rainfall across England and Wales of 75mm. The latter half of the month saw over 30mm of rain-fall in the week to 24 April.

The rainfall has brought many soils up to field capacity with soil moisture deficits (SMDs) approaching 0mm for winter crops, although some in the drier eastern counties are still around 30-45mm. This compares to SMDs of over 80mm at the end of April 2011. The HGCA said the overall condition of wheat crops was 'very good'.

However, the Environment Agency warned that much more rain was needed to take regions across the south and east of England out of drought status. Polly Chancellor, national drought co-ordinator, said: "We've had a lot of rain during this past week, which has delayed the need for water companies to apply for further drought permits. But at the moment most of the rain is not reaching down far enough to top up groundwater, which is what we really need to make a difference to the drought."

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