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Jersey: Farmers feeling the heat as the Island is set to enter a drought

Jersey: Farmers feeling the heat as the Island is set to enter a drought

The lack of rainfall could affect the potato-lifting season, the Jersey Royal Company has said as the Island is set to enter a drought.

Mike Renouard, business unit director at The Jersey Royal Company, said that farmers were hoping for a period of rain to help with the growth of their crop.

Cool and dry conditions over the last two weeks are slowing down the growing process, forcing farmers to irrigate their fields. The last rainfall recorded by Jersey Met was on 10 April.

With no rain forecast for the weekend, the Island is set to officially move into an absolute drought on Monday (26 April) – marked by 15 consecutive days without significant rainfall.

There have been 217 hours of sunshine recorded so far in April – just three hours short of what is usually expected for the whole month.

April has also been significantly drier than average, with only 12mm of rain recorded so far this month, well below the average of 56.7mm. The next chance of rain is not until next Wednesday.

Mike Renouard, business unit director at The Jersey Royal Company:
 
“It has been really dry recently, and unfortunately it doesn't look like there is going to be any significant rain for some time. This continued dry spell could impact the quantity of potatoes being lifted.”

“We're currently lifting around 250 tonnes a week. This usually reaches up to 1,500 tonnes in the height of the season. However, these numbers could be affected if we don’t see rain soon.”

“The mornings and evenings are still cold as well and you really need the temperature to be above 8°C for the crop to grow. We are about a week behind schedule, but we are irrigating where we can.”
Peter Le Maistre, president of the Jersey Farmers' Union:
 
“The irrigation process was labor-intensive.”

“Irrigating requires a lot of extra work and extra costs but farmers don't have the choice at the minute.”

“The crop is light at the moment due to the weather. Traditionally we have had some showers in April but, so far this year, that has not been the case. Most people feel that we might not start lifting in high quantities until early May.”

“We can never seem to get the perfect conditions as farmers. We always need a bit of extra rain or some more sunshine. This time around we need some rain.”
Reservoir levels are currently at 91% of their capacity. Simon Le Huray, customer services manager at Jersey Water, has urged Islanders not to 'waste water'.

The UK Met Office, which issues long-range forecasts on its website, says the settled conditions are likely to continue into May.
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