THE disastrous impact of the wet summer on the region's harvest became clear this week.

While the average national wheat yield was forecast to be up 2pc on last year, the North-East's is expected to be down by almost 2.5pc. The NFU said the drop came in spite of a 6.57pc regional increase in the area planted.

The NFU's annual harvest survey puts the national wheat yield at 15.8mt, partly owing to an 8pc increase in the area planted, and barley at 6mt.

Stewart Vernon, a member of the NFU's regional combinable crops commodity board who farms at Heighington, said it was largely thanks to modern technology that so much of the harvest was salvaged. The real issue now was the low quality of the crop - a fact made worse by the rest of Europe enjoying a good harvest of very high quality.

"This will make it even harder for North-East farmers to find a market for their grain, almost all of which is only suitable for animal feed that is attracting very low prices," he said.

The survey found less barley was planted, a picture reflected in the North-East. While winter barley was less affected by an extremely wet August, spring barley yields were well down (2.35pc) and the total spring barley output fell more than 11pc.

Oilseed rape saw a higher acreage produce higher outputs of about 13pc across the region, although lower average yields did affect the final yield figures.

Mr Vernon said localised conditions saw many oilseed rape crops abandoned in the North-East and, again, the main problem was the price poor quality oilseeds would attract.