UK & World News
Balmy Winter Creates Perfect Storm For Crops
Bumper fruit and vegetable crops are expected this summer after an unusually mild, wet winter and spring.
At Dedham Vale Vineyard in Essex the vines are a good month ahead of where they would usually be.
Winemaker Ben Bunting says it has given the grapes an excellent head start.
"What it means is the buds will flower at the end of next month or early July and that will give a much longer period for them to ripen before we pick them," he said.
The seven-acre vineyard produces 20,000 bottles of wine each year and there is optimism that 2014 may end up a vintage year.
Other gardeners and growers across the country are reaping the benefits of the warm weather too.
At Rectory Farm in Oxford the strawberries have arrived early as did the asparagus.
Farmer Richard Stanley said: "Asparagus needs eight degrees centigrade to grow below the ground, and the temperatures this spring were much warmer.
"It never got so cold so it didn't take so much for the sun to warm it up ... and they came two or three weeks earlier than last year."
According to the Royal Horticultural Society, it could be a taste of things to come.
Chief horticultural adviser Guy Barter said: "The weather is extraordinarily variable, so we'll always have late years and early years, but on balance we're expecting seasons to get a little earlier.
"They've already got about two weeks earlier in the last 20 years, and we can expect that trend to continue."
All the warm weather does mean more pests though.
Mr Barter said: "Insects can injure the plants, they can injure the fruits. At the moment there's a lot of aphids about ... green fly and black fly ... and they can damage the young shoots of plants, and they can also effect the fruits.
"A little mark on the fruit at this season swells into a big mark by the time September comes around."
There are some farmers who will not find this year easy for different reasons.
Last winter was not just very mild, it was also the wettest on record and for those farming in Somerset, the floods were devastating.
Some dairy farmers are still relying on donations of fodder for their cattle.