It never rains but it pours and that has certainly been the case over a rain drenched three months.

The county has been lashed with almost double the average rainfall for April, May and June, which has caused misery for homeowners who have seen floodwater lapping at their front doors.

While homeowners sort out insurance claims and clean their homes, fruit farmers and wildlife experts are crossing their fingers that the weather damage isn’t terminal.

Tony Eales, of Tendring Fruit Farm in Hailsham, said he may have less than a tenth of his apple crop this season.

He said: “My crop has been severely affected.

“Cox’s and Russets have set very poorly because it was cold when they were in blossom.

“I doubt if I’ve got a 10% crop. It’ll be ‘hunt the apple’ this autumn.”

Chris Dench, from Ringden Farm in Flimwell, is another fruit farmer blaming cold, wet weather during the flowering period for smaller crops.

He said: “Our apple crop has been affected.

“It is too early to be precise but at best we only have about 40% of a normal crop, with some varieties as low as 10%, including Russet and Cox and some at 80%, such as Braeburn Gala and Jonagold.

“We’re just hoping we will have enough fruit to stay in business.”

Worst apple season

Ivor Kiverstein, of Tullens Fruit Farm in Pulborough, said this year was shaping up to be the worst apple season in ten years.

He said: “While some varieties of apple have not been too badly affected, if at all, our main dessert apple varieties of Cox, Orange Pippin and Queen Cox have been devastated.

“I would say we have lost 75% of our crop.

“The principle reason for this was the cold, wet and windy weather during the period when blossom was out. This resulted in very poor pollination. Basically the wild honey bees and other insects we rely on to pollinate the fruit were just not around, so although we had wonderful blossom very little fruit set.”

Jess Crocker of Brighton and Hove Food Partnership said the weather had been tough for local growers with an increase in slug and snail damage forcing fruit and veg producers to keep crops under cover for too long.

Seeds have also been failing to germinate successfully due to the wet and windy conditions with crops like asparagus, apples and strawberries coming later and less abundant than usual.

Bees struggle

Honey production has also been affected due to lack of flowers for bees to forage.

She added: “Many growers have had fewer crops to sell and are struggling financially even more than usual.

“We feel this makes it all the more important for people to buy local and support our farmers.

“We were also pleased to see the sun returning recently and the hosepipe ban lifted as this should give some hope to all local gardeners that there is still time to get going and grow.

“Good crops for a quick turnaround or a late start are things like salads and radishes.”

While the heavy rains have been a matter of profit or loss for fruit farmers and vineyard owners, for the county’s insects and animals the bad weather has meant the difference between life and death.

Jess Price, wildlife information officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust, said the wet spring had a negative impact.

Starve The weather has flooded birds’ nests, forced insects to appear later in the year and caused a slower development of amphibious creatures.

The trust has the biggest concerns over its wetland sites in Woods Mill near Henfield, Filsham Reedbed near Bexhill and Amberley Wildbrooks near Pulborough.

She said: “It’s not just the rain, it’s the cold as well. For birds a lot of their nests have been flooded while many parents haven’t been able to get food to their chicks and they have starved."

Anyone concerned about wildlife should contact Sussex Wildlife Trust on 01273 494777.