2010 and 2011 were good years for sunflowers for Vine House Farm - we're one of the largest growers of sunflowers in Britain - however this year has been a different story. The cold, wet summer we have experienced has meant the sunflowers are two weeks behind where they should be, and this is the same for wheat and oil seed rape crops. The nice couple of weeks we have just had have helped the sunflowers greatly, and now our usual 160 acres of sunflowers are in full bloom, creating a fantastic spectacle for passers-by on the A1175 (old A16) in Deeping St Nicholas and on our other site at Baston Fen.

Lucy Watts, Manager of Vine House Farm Bird Foods, said “this year we drilled the millet and sunflowers a bit later than normal because of the wet weather in April but they came up in record time due to the good weather at the end of May. Growth has been very slow since then because of the cool wet weather. The sunflowers are the last of our crops to be harvested which if we experience a wet autumn we will find very challenging”.

For many arable farmers the wet summer has created problems. Most crops including wheat and oilseed rape are two weeks behind compared to a typical year. Most farmers are also experiencing poor yields – with yields down by 20% in many crops.