But, unnoticed by the national media, the weather is making me very nervous. We have a smallholding, and so get to see what's happening out there on a daily basis. The winter was long and wet, and in mid May it was finally dry enough to apply lime. The lime is still clearly visible on the surface, as it has hardly rained since. Our grass has stopped growing, and the horses and sheep are wandering across pasture that is increasingly parched and bare. At least we got a low-yielding hay crop. Of course, it's not just us. At the Leeds University farm, the cereal crops (see the photo of barley on the right) have nearly all gone yellow, but the grain has barely filled. The oil seed rape looks as though it is being dessicated as usual before harvest (see the photo above), but it's just drying out. It's looking a poor year for crop yields, and word on the street is that yields of hay and silage are down, after the long winter which depleted feed stocks for livestock.
Globally, the situation is not good. The FAO reckon that world cereal production is going down this year, and stocks are due to fall. But this assumes normal weather for the rest of the cropping season, and our experience of long, hot, dry weather is being shared by many across the world. If the recent periods of longer, more stable weather patterns are what is ahead, our agriculture and food systems will have change pretty rapidly if we are to cope.