UK Wheat Harvest Struggles On In North East

The harvest struggles slowly on in the North East, especially Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Co Durham, where the heavy rainfall and flooding have meant that on many farms less than 50 per cent of the wheat has been harvested.

The situation is exacerbated by European Union machinery rules which ban farmers from using combine harvesters on wet land to protect soil quality.

Hilary Benn, the Rural Affairs Secretary, is now expected to allow special exemption for farmers to salvage what is left of their crops by using heavy machinery on the wet fields.

Mr Benn's exemption is expected to last for about three weeks.

Guy Gagen, chief arable adviser at the National Farmers' Union, said: "This is the most difficult harvest for at least 40 years. Farmers say it compares to 1968, which was very similar, with heavy rain throughout the summer. We just need a break in the weather. If we get that for five to seven days farmers can recover."

Simon Henderson, who farms 600 acres at Doddington, near Wooler, said the floods were "the worst seen in living memory." Mr Henderson said crops of potatoes, peas, carrots, wheat and barley were all under about 3ft of water.

BBC Video Nasty