We have had a very mixed spell of weather, with some areas having localised flooding. Thankfully, we have missed these but we have had huge ranges in temperatures.
Unfortunately every time we have some sun and heat it has then been followed by heavy rain which has made it impossible to make hay and difficult to catch up with silage. The sprayer however, has managed to keep up-to-date with all the spraying.
All crops look good, with winter barley and wheat improving a lot over the last month, although the drowned-out patches will never produce a crop this harvest and I wish I had re-sown more areas with spring wheat, which now looks great and it will be interesting to see how it yields.
Spring barleys have raced through their growth stages and now look good. Some patches of spring oats look too good and are flat in small areas already. Growth of spring cereals has been so rapid through the last week of June it looks like I was correct to apply growth regulator. Rather than do a blanket treatment I decided to first select the fields I thought were at the highest risk of going flat.
I was lucky in the fact I was offered a small seed tonnage of a new variety of spring barley which may be a replacement for Maresi. Maresi is becoming well outclassed on yield, but we still grow it for one customer who specifically requires this variety. The new variety called Olympus looks very promising in the field, but we will have to wait to see how it yields both in the field and the distillery.
Last year we had an early start to harvest, with winter barley being cut on July 14 but it will be two to three weeks behind this year. I have had to purchase extra straw and barley to keep the pig unit supplied until harvest starts.
I hosted two open farm afternoons in July. The first afternoon was held by a major maltster. It invited all its distillery customers to come on-farm in order to study the varieties growing in the field, as well as to hear and see all the problems and challenges associated with growing spring malting barley. We finished the afternoon with a barbecue and sampled some of the end product. I found this afternoon satisfying as it allowed me to get closer to my end customer and hear about their challenges in producing an ideal spirit from barley.
As well as being in the field I also gave them a presentation on the latest technology we are using and an insight into how Axis, the new recording and management software from Agrovista, is working for us. Many took the opportunity to view all the machinery required to establish and grow these crops, including a look at the GPS technology we are using.
The second afternoon was a visit by other farmers and agronomists to view both the winter barley and spring barley variety trial plots. I have hosted these trial plots for more than six years now. Although a lot of work at drilling time, they allow me to compare old and new varieties on my land. Each plot is about one-hectare in size, so giving a good representation of performance.
I was recently asked to judge the 40th anniversary show of Simmentals in Denmark at their national show. The weather was brilliant and I was surprised to see all the farms irrigating their arable crops. The quality of stock on show was excellent, so good it encouraged me to purchase two of their Simmental heifers, which will bring new bloodlines into the UK.