Down here on the English Riviera, spring is well under way, with the first of the daffodils fully exposed to the elements and the January-sown winter wheat poking through.
All we need now is the right conditions to crack on with the spring work – with more than 300ha to sow in addition to muck, fertiliser, slurry and sprays there is plenty to keep everyone busy.
Do all farmers enjoy a good farming funeral? It certainly seems so to me. They usually turn out to be very social occasions.
At the service of a highly respected local farmer recently, thoughts and debate turned to grain prices and the bragging started. Given the occasion and realising one’s immortality, you could be excused to exaggerate beyond standard pub talk. No matter, it did make me realise that I had better get on and sell the remaining 10% of the wheat crop.
This will enable me to calculate my average price so that I can be measured in comparison with the talk of that day and I can be benchmarked further afield.
To market some of that 10%, we got down to my career maximum price for feed wheat – you’ve never heard so much fuss over 25p/t. Anyway, here it is, with prices ranging between £100 and £205.25, my average for the 2010 harvest is £161.62, all moved before April.
Nevertheless, this does impact significantly on the profitability of the 30,000 pigs a year that we finish here at Crichel. This has resulted in us deciding to depopulate, not only the largest organic pig-breeding herd in Europe, but the non-organic sows as well.
I hope that significant improvement in margins will allow for a repopulation in the near future. Who will join me at the 3 March Downing Street rally to see if we can make a difference?
Arable Farmer Focus: Andrew Blenkiron