Every so often The Croppie is contacted by readers for an informal opinion on a areas of downed crop which may appear slightly swirled and roughly circular. Could these be malformed crop circles; those which have somehow gone wrong?

It’s a cool idea. Regrettably, the answer is no. These irregular areas of downed crops are said to be ‘lodged’; the plants have collapsed.

Lodging at Chilcomb Down near Winchester, June 2021.

This graphic from the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board best explains the causes of lodging:

The Croppie has seen ripe wheat plants with brittle stems lodge in strong summer winds.

Perhaps more commonly, immature (green) barley is prone to lodging during spells of heavy rain. Notably, the Hampshire area experienced torrential rain during June 2021 and The Croppie saw entire fields lodged in miserable fashion.

For more on the basics of crop lodging (if that’s really your thing) check out these two links:

(1) Crop Lodging by Professor Chris Baker

(2) Avoiding Lodging In Winter Wheat by AHDB