This month is on course to be one the driest Aprils on record - with the UK seeing just 18 per cent of its average rainfall, write Catherine Wylie and John Besley, PA.

Traditional April showers have stayed away, putting the month in line for a place in the history books if the weather continues in this vein.

There has been an average of 12.8mm of rain across the UK up to April 22, much lower than the April average of 72.53mm, according to Met Office figures.

A typical April in the UK would have had 70 per cent of its rainfall by now, but it instead has just had 18 per cent.

The driest April on record across the UK was in 1938 when 14.1mm of rain was recorded, followed by April 1974 when 14.6mm of rain fell.

In more recent years, the driest Aprils in the UK have been in 2007 when 26.6mm of rain was recorded and 2020 when the average was 29.1mm.

Cornwall has seen just 6 per cent of its average rainfall for the month, while Dorset has seen even less of its usual with just 5 per cent.

The NFU’s national water resources specialist, Paul Hammett, said that after a delayed start to spring planting for many farmers following very wet winter conditions, they have now turned to irrigating their crops following several weeks of dry weather.

He said irrigation prospects for crops such as fruit and vegetables remain good because water availability is high following winter rainfall.

But with mainly dry weather forecast for the next few weeks, the absence of rainfall needed by cereal and grass crops is beginning to cause some concern.

Another issue faced by farmers is the cold weather which is hampering grass growth.

Grahame Madge, climate spokesman at the Met Office, told the PA news agency: “Really for the rest of the month there isn’t any signal for significant rainfall.”

He said there may be some rain in the middle part of next week, but added: “That’s not necessarily going to do anything to top up these figures and get us anywhere near average.

“So I think we recognise that obviously with eight or so days to go April is going to be a very dry month.”

Mr Madge said this month will probably have been quite “challenging” for crop growers as it has been quite cold as well as dry.

He added: “I think there is a good chance that if the month continues in line with the forecast that we are going to be in line for seeing this as one of the driest Aprils.”

Mr Madge said it is probably going to be in the top 10, taking into account every April since 1862.

“I can’t see us getting another 18mm of rain.

“I can’t see us getting more than we’ve already had in the last eight days of the month.

“So I think we’re definitely in line for the driest April since 2007."