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Midlands farmers in crop fear on dry summer

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Dry weather is taking its toll on the West Midlands countryside as the region suffers the effects of a particularly arid summer.

Dry weather is taking its toll on the West Midlands countryside as the region suffers the effects of a particularly arid summer.

Farmers are now fearful of failing crops, while fish stocks could be threatened as ponds dry up. Water companies say that they do not expect to impose a hosepipe ban but they are asking customers to use water more sparingly.

There has been just 22.9mm of rainfall so far this month compared to a usual average for August in the region of 33mm.

Similarly there was just 45mm last month, compared with the usual 51.8mm and 53.6mm in June compared with the average 63mm for that time.

Staffordshire farmer Robert Lockhart said that the dry spell was causing problems mainly for farmers in the south of the county and those with crops on light sandy soils in areas like Lichfield and Shenstone.

"Areas to the north of Stafford have had a much wetter summer and are not suffering as badly," he said.

He said cereal yields were expected to be way down on 2010 and potato and other vegetable crops were also suffering.

"There has just not been enough rainfall. It will be a poor harvest in some parts of the county," said Mr Lockhart, who farms at Drayton Bassett, near Tamworth

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In Walsall small ponds have begun drying up while many trees are showing autumnal colours.

Tony Hoile, farm manager Forge Mill Farm in West Bromwich, added: "The reservoirs are lower than normal, but they are not desperate."

South Staffs Water supply director Keith Marshall said the company's main reservoir at Blithfield was currently 62 per cent full.

"Although it has been dry in the Midlands, the River Severn has been kept at a pretty healthy level because of rainfall elsewhere. At the moment we don't expect to impose any restrictions but we would ask our customers to use water sparingly," he said.

Severn Trent said water- use restrictions would not be necessary this summer.

By David Lumb and Lisa Wright

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