NFU Holland branch vice-chairman writes on farming issues this week

Gavin Lane.
Gavin Lane.

My father, born and bred in Holbeach, died in July last year, writes Gavin Lane.

I therefore felt a nervous pang last year when I failed to get all our winter wheat drilled by December 13. Perhaps because we had lifted sugar beet past his magic date of November 23!

To be fair to my farm staff, we were at the behest of contractors and British Sugar who had failed to fully take on board the consequences of a record beet crop on a record beet area. Sugar beet harvesting has taken longer, hauliers are behind, the factories are struggling to cope and, while the prices have been good, farmers are frustrated as sugar beet starts to lose weight and therefore money as soon as they are harvested.

Next year will be different as a significant reduction in the sugar beet price has made other crops look more favourable. We, along with many others, will be reducing our sugar beet area by over 50 per cent. I am sad about this as it has been a good crop to us and a great break from cereals in the rotation. However, it can also cause untold damage to your soil if harvested in very wet conditions. Having seen some of my fields, Dad was no fool in having a cut-off date.