Now the disastrous winter sown crop harvest is behind us, there is time to reflect whilst we wait for the spring crops to finish ripening. We did have a nibble at the spring oats as it is difficult to leave the combine idle when the weather is set fair. With temperatures in the mid thirties, the call of an airconditioned cab was too strong. However, it was not to be with too many green, secondary tillers contaminating the sample with unripe grain, so we pulled out. Pre harvest glyphosate is the only way to get a better sample now, something I try to avoid if at all possible. The spring barley also had too many green patches, but at least the scorching temperatures have mostly pushed on the ripening of those as they were crop height and not in the bottom like the oats. We just need it to stop raining now; farmers are never happy. I do think the spring cereals show more promise than the winter crops, although they are starting to look a bit battered after the various storms.
We have a straw for muck agreement with a local beef farmer and then chop the rest to incorporate back into the soil. However, this year we have agreed to supply straw to some other local farmers who are short due to the poor harvest. One benefit of this shortage was not having to burn the winter linseed straw, instead we baled it and it is now being using for livestock bedding. I am told it seems to have worked ok so far.
I usually try to concentrate on the positives, which seems more of a challenge this year with all that has happened. Rather than dwell on the negatives, it is an opportunity to perhaps reflect on what we could have done better. We can’t control the weather, which clearly has a huge impact on what we do. So moving forward, I have to come up with a more robust system that can better deal with the more frequent extreme weather events that are likely in the future.
To end on a positive, the wild bird seed plots, that are part of our stewardship agreement, have been spectacularly successful this year thanks to the well timed rain in June. These will help keep the wild birds fed with a variety of seeds over the winter and early spring. Currently they are playing host to a number of butterflies, bees and assorted insects and no doubt this type of crop will play an important role in any future government support we might be given. We’ll need all the help we can get, as this is going to be a very lean year.