THE WORD ON THE GROUND

Grower Chris Carter.
Grower Chris Carter.
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THE weather has dominated all decisions taken this year by growers and farmers alike. As I’m sure we all know, we have had the wettest April, May, June, July and probably September on record.

As I write this, flooding is taking place in north Lincolnshire, north Midlands and the Pennines. Because of the work done by our local internal drainage boards, south Lincolnshire is likely to be mercifully free of such miseries.

Harvest for most in south Lincolnshire was the usual stop-start affair, but while many had a relatively easy time this year, the results have been, for most, disappointing. Bushel weights, the measure of specific crop weight, have been way down and many grain samples have looked like chicken corn this year, and resembled the sort of sample that the combine usually is set to reject. Oilseed rape again has been variable with yields below average.

The up-side is that prices are looking most encouraging, if only the quantities of commodity were there in the first place. Some, who have sold a very large proportion of their crop forward in the expectation of a normal harvest, are apparently being pressed by merchants who have bought the crop to deliver the contract quantity, which can prove somewhat embarrassing and might lead to them having to buy in wheat to satisfy the contract. This can prove costly, as some are discovering.

On the home front, we managed to get our oilseed rape drilled in the wet lull between the start and finish of harvest and it is emerging pretty well, but with the ever present threat of slugs, this year of the monster variety, who just love the taste of young OSR leaves.

We also managed to drill a reasonable proportion of our wheat, following the oilseed rape, and this is now emerging pretty well if a little patchily. With the amount of rain recently experienced, I now expect the patches to be filled in pretty soon.

The potato harvest has briefly stalled because of the dry weather but one hopes now that this job can be completed shortly, while we are yet to touch our sugar beet, which looks reasonable but by all accounts sugar levels are going to be low this year because of the dull, dreadful, so-called summer we all enjoyed.

The autumn is, for me, the best time of year as it’s the time to forget the lows of the previous season and the chance to start again and try to get it right next year, a sort of clean sheet really. So whatever the weather has in store for us over the next eight or so months, it surely must be better than the last months, mustn’t it? Ah, the eternal optimist!