November’s rain has created some severe local challenges and many fields have not been sown with winter wheat, ours included.
Arable cropping is only a small part of our business so damage is limited as we can instigate a change of plan for spring.
We have been lucky with our maize harvest as 95 per cent is clamped, but extra wear and tear on the tractors is being realised as the hard task of such a wet maize harvest bears a heavy cost, not only to soil structure but rear axles too.
A special mention must go to the teams of maize harvesters working tirelessly, not only to bring in the winter fodder but keeping roads clean, safe and open.
Many fields locally are untouchable so the foragers have had little option but to give up.
Out of curiosity, I enquired about next autumn’s wheat prices for the dairy ration, only to be told forward trading has all but stopped. It would seem the bulls in the futures markets may be sharpening their horns to push prices higher.
A respected, retired farmer local to me has reminded me that the two most significant impacts on a farmer’s business are weather and currency. I think he might be right.
Autumn grazing has finished for the youngstock so last-minute shed preparations are at full tilt. We may have to out-winter our bulling heifers on sandy maize stubbles until the turkeys vacate their lodgings.
Feedback so far on our grain-laden spring barley straw suggests the turkeys are doing well on it. If anything weights are looking generous.
Obviously it is not over until Santa’s on the chimney-tops but so far they look on target.
White meat prices seem stable, possibly firming, as global supplies tighten on the strength of African swine fever crisis. Let us hope these prices filter through to give us a little Christmas cheer.
There is a BBC documentary due to be aired on November 25 entitled Meat; A Threat to Our Planet?’. I hope it will be a well-balanced programme.
I would urge my fellow farmers to read some of the very interesting writing by Joe Stanley in the press recently [‘British Farmers are not the enemy in the battle against the climate crisis’ - The Guardian, November 3].
In the article Mr Stanley details how sustainable UK livestock production is, how UK pastureland is a huge sink for Greenhouse gasses and how we are in danger of being tarred with the Amazonian meat production brush.
In life, we need to identify where best-practice is and replicate it, not identify worst-practice and lump everything into the same category to frighten everyone. I will watch the documentary with interest.