Insanity in the countryside

The field full of sunflowers. ANL-140919-151428001
The field full of sunflowers. ANL-140919-151428001
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Readers’ letter by Andrew Malkin, of Moulton

Can anyone explain to me what appears to be an insanity in the countryside?

The field with the sunflowers all gone. ANL-140919-151439001

The field with the sunflowers all gone. ANL-140919-151439001

Opposite my home in Moulton are two large fields.

One, earlier this year, was planted with cauliflowers.

They grew and developed into a splendid field full of large, healthy-looking caulis ripe for eating – but none were cropped and they began to run to seed.

Others in the village scratched their heads as we wondered what was going on. Then, all in a single day, they were ploughed in.

On the other field, also earlier this year, an even bigger field was sown with a mystery crop. As it grew we were fascinated to discover they were sunflowers. Over the past 25 years we have mainly looked out over crops of potatoes, peas, brassicas, sugar beet and wheat.

On a couple of occasions daffodils, on one occasion tulips and an another occasion gladioli have provided a more pleasing view – making up for the inconvenience of smells, noise, spray drift and mud on the road that the other more regular crops bring.

Sunflowers, for the first time in a quarter of a century, and perhaps the first time ever, were a promise of glories to come. What could they be growing hundreds of thousands of sunflowers for – cut flowers, sunflower oil, bird seed?

Just a few days ago the sunflowers began to bloom. Our view was suddenly glorious – early morning cuppas looking out over a scene more common in France.

Today one man in a tractor has destroyed every last flower. Ploughed in, all that remains are petals of gold crushed into the soil. To the casual observer it appears to be madness, a kind of vandalism.

Is it because of bizarre market forces, poor management, or something else?

It has undoubtedly cost a lot of money to set these two enormous fields up and tend the crop, all of which, one assumes, has been lost as there is nothing to market.

Does anyone have a rational explanation for the puzzled folk of Moulton?

Andrew Malkin,