The price of potatoes has rocketed and lamb could follow as farmers feel the pressure of difficult weather conditions.
Belinda Leach, general secretary of the Manx National Farmers’ Union, said farmers were still feeling the impact of summer 2012 – the wettest on record.
While the full effect of the 2013 snowfall, which saw thousands of sheep and lambs perish, may yet to be seen.
She said: ‘Generally, livestock, like farmers, are really appreciating the good weather and while good progress is being made in restoring fields to their true state, it will take several years to fully restore some of the damage from last summer.’
A shortage of potatoes in the island and UK has caused a sharp increase in their price.
Vegetable crops were ‘very seriously affected’ by the extremely wet summer, autumn and winter 2012:
‘Many acres of potatoes and vegetables were lost, unable to be harvested due to waterlogged fields and indeed many quite simply rotted in the fields and had to be ploughed in. There was also a shortage of seed potatoes so the price for new seed rocketed and was in fact very hard to get hold of.’
A very poor spring means many vegetable crops have been ‘very late this season’.
But the recent spell of dry weather has helped ‘enormously’.
Sheep farmers are now feeling the full financial hit of the heavy lamb and ewe losses from the snow.
They don’t have the lambs to be marketed, and many which would have gone to market have been kept for breeding. It means lamb is likely to be in short supply later in the year ‘which may push the price of lamb up to the customer’.
Following the snow, the island experienced persistent strong easterly winds and very dry conditions. Very cold and damp soil conditions resulted in poor germination and poor establishment of crops while very low air temperatures resulted in zero grass growth.
Farmers were unable to turn animals out into fields, resulting in both extra feed and bedding costs and management time.
Delayed grass growth added financial pressures on dairy farmers. Milk yields were affected as dairy cows had to be housed and fed boughtin feed.
Many arable crops struggled to establish in the cold and wet of late winter and early spring, then were cut back by the harsh easterly winds.
She said: ‘Early indications are that yields are likely to be reduced partly due to the difficult spring, partly due to the loss of waterlogged winter cereals and partly due to a slight droughting of crops during this recent very dry period.
Harvest has just started in the north, with the first winter barley having just been combined.
On a positive note, maize planted – mainly as feed for dairy cows – is thriving in the warm temperatures.
• In July the annual cost of living, measured by the Retail Prices Index, rose 0.4 per cent to 3.2 per cent. Over the last 12 months, the price of potatoes has leapt by 27.6 per cent.