Reading farmer’s profits down 36% due to recent wet weather

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Eleanor Gilbert

Eleanor Gilbert is urging the public to help farmers by moving over when you see a combine tractor

A farmer has said the wet weather has left her struggling to bring in the harvest and cut her profits by a third.

Eleanor Gilbert, a farmer near Thatcham said the need to dry damp crops was driving up costs for her business.

The chair of the NFU Combinable Crops Board said the next 10 days would be crucial for grain crops.

The UK’s weather has been unsettled, with widespread rain and cooler temperatures that are forecast to continue into next week.

Ms Gilbert, a farmer at Rookery Farm near Thatcham, said: “We can’t physically combine the crop if it’s too wet because it won’t go through our big machines.”

The grains need to be cleaned, graded, sorted and converted into an edible form, but in order to do this they need to be stored and dry.

Ms Gilbert testing the crop

Millers will not accept grains that are 15% over the moisture content.

She added: “The grain must not be more than 15% moist otherwise we get rejected at the processors.”

Drying costs are expensive for farmers, Ms Gilbert told the BBC, and currently the crop is “coming off at 18% and are being rejected”.

Last week she said lost 36% of her profit because the crop “was a little bit too wet”.

NFU Combinable Crops Board chair Matt Culley said: “The price of drying crops is very expensive with rising cost of electricity.”

Mr Culley, who is also an arable farmer from Bourne Valley near Andover, said: “I’m not seeing a negative impact at the moment but can confirm it’s a slow start to the harvest.”

Ms Gilbert is urging the public to move over if you see a combine tractor on the roads, because they have limited time to get the harvest complete.

She said: “Help us get to where we need to faster because we are working 16-20 hour days trying to get combining done through the night when its dry.”

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