Weather the storm of unpredictable seasons

December 10th 2019

Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn, Rural Divisional Director from Lycetts, considers the damaging impact of climate change on crop yields.

This summer saw global average temperatures for the month of June hit record levels. Great news for the tourism industry, but not such welcome news for UK farmers.

The extremes of today’s weather are widely attributed to global warming and evidence suggests that volatile weather events are increasing in frequency and severity – and only going to get worse.

Last year was particularly turbulent – a long cold winter brought the ‘Beast from the East’ followed by a rollercoaster of unusual weather patterns which seemed to change on a daily basis from hot and dry to cold and wet.

In some cases, higher temperatures can spark an increase in yields as the growing season is extended. However, the overriding trend is that most crop yields decline in such conditions.

Unfortunately, the short and long-term future doesn’t look any rosier.

Scientists predict that the ‘Beast’ will return this winter with even colder temperatures than last year’s -14 degrees which will make 2020 the coldest winter in thirty years.  By 2040, experts anticipate that more than half our summers will exceed the sweltering 38 degree temperatures we endured in 2003.

Against this backdrop of persistent weather uncertainty and the subsequent impact on crop yields, the agricultural sector, along with the UK’s food industry and supply chain face a difficult future.

No matter how well-established and well-managed an arable farm may be, the only certainty among all this uncertainty is that crop yields and income will be affected.

But forewarned is forearmed and the good news is that there is now a solution that can help farmers manage the burden of these unpredictable seasons.

Lycetts Crop Shortfall Insurance allows farmers to protect themselves against production shortfalls. Pay-outs are automatically triggered to farmers if extreme weather causes yields in their region to fall below the historic average.

This unique policy covers farmers for up to a quarter of the shortfall of their projected crop production for the harvest year in question for crops such as winter oilseed rape, winter wheat or winter and spring barley.

Unlike traditional insurance, where insurers must survey the damage, it allows for a quicker claims settlement process as indemnity is based on an index.

It gives UK farmers peace of mind that their crop and thus their income is protected – giving them one less thing to worry about when an unexpected heatwave or weather event hits the UK.

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