Deeping St Nicholas farmer talks about the harvest

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Having had a long dry spell I was expecting a wet harvest but thankfully it doesn’t seem to be materialising, writes Nicholas Watts.

Here at Deeping St Nicholas I only recorded 200mm or 8in during the first seven months of the year, only 70 per cent of what we normally have and I must say how pleasant it has been farming without getting mud on my boots.

In 1976, the worst drought in living memory, by this time I had only had recorded 115mm or 4.6in of rain and we had 38 consecutive days without any rain during July and August. The summer was also warmer than this summer but when the weather broke it didn’t stop raining for the next six months.

At the time of writing, harvest is progressing well but there is a long way to go before everything is harvested and we will need rain soon, firstly to make the oil seed rape grow and secondly to soften the clods so we can harvest the potatoes without bruising them.

Two years ago the experts were saying that the future looked bright for farmers as prices of nearly all our crops were good but here we are only two years later with most crop prices at rock bottom and that is partly due to there being a surplus of grain worldwide and partly due to competition between supermarkets. The first problem will sort itself out but I can’t see the second problem going away in the foreseeable future, as at every opportunity they are looking for cheaper produce. The one crop that could be reasonable this year is potatoes but we will just have to wait and see. It is a crop that the supermarkets do not have control over.