All the winter crops took a beating from the cold north easterlies, but the linseed seemed to have been hit the hardest. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which plants had been damaged, with unharmed leaves next to what looked like dead and dying leaves. The above photo was taken on Monday 15th February the day after the last of the cold winds.
By the Friday, after a few days of temperatures going from an average of minus 2 to plus 12, new growth was already evident. I breathed a sigh of relief as it now looks like it’s mostly ok. Shame the cold winds didn’t have much effect on the broad leaved weeds though. They are going to be particularly difficult to control now that bromoxynil is being revoked.
We entered the cold period on February 8th with the soils saturated after 109mm of rainfall in January. The Thames and its backwaters had already broken their banks and crops were under water. Then as temperatures hit a low of -5 with the wind chill on top of that, the standing water froze. So no more rain for a week, but the water struggled to drain away with the ground frozen solid. Still, it was going to warm up and the forecasters promised a dry week. Result I thought, but no, they got it wrong and down came the rain again. Looking on the bright side, it does look as though spring is just around the corner now with the promise of better weather. So we are dusting the cobwebs off the fertiliser spreader, sprayer, cultivator and seed drill in preparation of a few manic weeks trying to catch up. Variable application plans of nitrogen have been drawn up, as have seeding maps and cultivation strategies. A couple of days to dry out and we are off.
I am really excited that I have been given the chance to write about farming once a month in our local newspaper, The Henley Standard. It will give me the platform to continue my mission of helping non farmers understand a little bit more about how we produce food and care for the wider countryside. My first piece will be published on March 5th and it will be based on my hedgerow blog from a few weeks ago, which I submitted in my quest to get an article into the paper. My grateful thanks to the editor, Simon Bradshaw, for giving me a column. I will write about what ever is topical, both on our farm and more widely in the media, if it is food or farming related.