In my last article I wrote about how soils conditions were about near perfect, temperatures were Mediterranean and spirits were generally high following a bumper harvest. Oh how things can change in a matter of weeks.
With the past weeks’ weather mainly dry and rather hot, harvest is almost complete with only winter and spring beans to cut. Crop yields have been somewhat average this year, with late frosts and little sunlight in May and June effecting oilseed rape yields and causing very low winter barley bushel weights.
On the contrast to last year when I was writing about the hot and dry weather being a curse on the lighter soil types, the deluge of rain we have had since the middle of June has led to utterings of ‘another 2012’.
As the busy June-July demo season draws to an end prior to combines rolling, there have been some key lessons to learn from a very difficult season.
By the time you read this our winter barleys and oilseed rape should – weather always permitting – be safely gathered in and we’ll have a good idea of how our wheats are coming off.
I recently visited the AHDB SPot Farm, at Elveden Estate. It is a really great initiative and of special interest to me to see targeted R&D happening on a sandy soil – types of soil very similar to those where I work.
As with most years, harvest seems to have crept up rather quickly. We will expect to see the first of the barley crops harvested in the third week of July, with most expected to follow a week later.
Considering how much rain and how little frost we’ve had, most of our ground is still walking remarkably well. This is mainly due to the impressive moisture-pumping ability of actively growing crops in an exceptionally mild winter with plenty of wind – for which we must be grateful.
Oilseed rape crops appear to have survived the winter reasonably well helped by the plentiful food source in the hedgerows to keep pigeons well fed until mid-February. Plants have now started to extend and in some cases flower buds are visible.
January can seem an anti-climax after the festivities and indulgences of Christmas. For me the real indication of the New Year is finding the first snowdrop, delicate and pristine, to emerge in full flower.