Today is #Farm24
24 hours for farmers to celebrate farming and all it entails, both its ups and downs. This is my contribution.
Long hours incarcerated in the cab of the combine. Eating on the move and a main meal late at night, all mixed up with a lack of sleep. The anticipation, the elation and the disappointment. Despite all this I always look forward to harvest, as it is the culmination of a year’s work. Crops that were sown with hope, now bear the fruit of our year long labours. The 2020 season has been a hell of a year for all of us, with Covid-19 and the exceptional weather events. From our point of view, the weather has had a much bigger impact than the pandemic. Apart from having to change our working practices in line with government guidelines, we have just carried on feeding the country as best we can. The weather, on the other hand, has had a huge impact on us and the crops we care for. The incessant autumn rain delayed the planting of winter crops. In the end we had to give up on about 40% of the planned area to be sown. What we did get in the ground struggled in the wet conditions with plant roots standing in saturated soil, so they never developed properly. When the spring drought hit, plants struggled to find moisture on our gravel soils, not helped by their poor root systems. Now that the winter crops are harvested, bitter disappointment is the over riding emotion. The winter barley only managed 4.5 tonnes per hectare of grain, when it is normally nearer to 8t/ha. The winter wheat will struggle to hit an overall average of 6t/ha, well down on the budgeted 8.5t/ha. Then there was the winter linseed sown into good conditions in September before the rain started. It all looked okay going into the spring. The drought and much more crucially the 2 late frosts, have turned it into this year’s biggest disaster yielding a pathetic 0.5t/ha, some 2 tonnes less than our normal average.
I am sure I have said before we farmers are nothing but optimists. The forage maize looks really good this year. The spring sown cereals, which we still have to harvest, look vaguely promising. It would be really good to end the season on a high.