A difficult spring at Deeping St Nicholas farm

Nicholas Watts.
Nicholas Watts.

On the farm here at Deeping St Nicholas it has actually been a very difficult spring, writes Nicholas Watts.

There were so few frosts last winter to break the soil down and the land has dried so quickly since it stopped raining in February we have been unable to make a seedbed for the seeds to grow in without the use of modern equipment, power harrows and irrigation.

It has only been a bit drier than average but we have had so much sun and wind during March and April, making far more evaporation than usual, which has dried the top soil out and so we have had to irrigate about 300 acres of land!

While we have been working extra hours irrigating and preparing seedbeds there have been other things to think about. The winter wheat has had to have its various sprays and doses of nitrogen to produce its optimal yield, which will ultimately depend on the amount of sunshine we get in June. This has never been more strikingly illustrated than in the previous two years. In January 2012 the wheat crop looked really well but we had that disastrously wet June and July and we had the worst harvest in living memory. In January 2013 much of the wheat crop was backward and the land was waterlogged; things looked no better by early May. We were in for a very poor harvest, but the sunshine came out and harvest was one of the best in recent years,all due to the sunny June and July. Sunshine is a good tonic for crops and people and in England we can’t get too much of it.