My Blog : Arable Farming

The dry weather is starting to raise a few eyebrows of concern with very little rain falling in March and just 6mm in April, with crops on lighter land visibly suffering. Currently the heavy clays at Toddington are coming to no harm, but it won’t be long before the crops start to suffer, with the last reasonable rainfall being 7mm on the March 22.

Most crops are showing a lot of potential, and our decisions and actions over the next couple of months are going to be crucial in ensuring we maximise that potential. The relatively mild winter and early spring, combined with ample rainfall events, has led to all but the very late sown crops appearing to be very forward.

A while ago we discussed potato blight and its influence on the socio-economic development of Ireland and the USA in the 1840s and 50s. There was another significant ‘produce-related’ event in the history of the USA – and that was the Boston Tea Party.

With the possible exception of beans suffering more foot-rotting than we would like, most of our autumn-sown crops seem to be thriving from the continued week-on, week-off winter. As we move into mid-February, the cereals and what remains of our rape are looking green, healthy and full of promise, without that yellow and hungry look they so often have at this time of year.

With little activity taking place on-farm, bar loading the last lot of beans and oats along with taking delivery of spring seed, it has been a good opportunity to attend as many meetings and conferences as possible.

As I write, at the beginning of February, crops are just starting to get moving, albeit very slowly due to conditions turning rather wet, and at times quite cold. However, it’s only a matter of time until the weather starts changing and crops begin to grow at a serious rate of knots.

I am pleased to say my New Year’s resolution has taken a turn for the better and I have now lost 8kg since January 9. It has not been easy, but I am determined to continue and keep the weight off this time, but with several social events coming up it will be difficult. I will just to have hope that with spring work and lambing around the corner I can work it off.

The fall in the value of sterling and no pre-harvest forward sales had left me feeling pretty smug. My marketing inactivity was a piece of inspired genius, and the uplift in grain prices is going at least some way to mitigate the disappointing yield from last harvest.

We have our annual farm assurance (Red Tractor) inspection during the first week in December. This coincides with my first New Year’s resolution: to keep all of our spray and fertiliser records up-to-date.

Winter has finally arrived allowing sprayers to be put to bed for a well-earned rest following a very hectic period of work facilitated by the unusually open autumn.

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