What a difference a bit of “grunt” makes. Anyone unfamiliar with the previous phrase will be spluttering over their cornflakes by now, but a lot of you will realise that I am referring to our recently acquired extra horsepower.

As I said in my previous article, we have now got a tractor rated at over 200hp for the first time and it certainly has made a difference to our output and, incredibly, it has reduced the amount of fuel used per acre as well as making Steve (the man who sits on it) a happy man. Something I would rate in a survey as “very important”.

Like most of you, all of the autumn sowings have gone into superb conditions this year – mild weather and warm soils are making crops look healthier now than last year’s crops ever did. So much so that there must be a concern that some fields of oilseed rape are too far advanced for this time of year.

Back in early July I had a visit from a group of Yorkshire farmers who saw some very shrivelled up, recently planted, wee broccoli plants that could have done with a drink.

I could see that these guys thought they would never survive. But I can surprise them by saying they did, without irrigation, and produced a good crop.

Happily, all our vegetables this year have produced bountiful yields, but that too has had its problems as we simply could not keep up with the pace of their ripening. Regrettably, we have lost some, despite my labour force’s valiant efforts.

I probably say this every year, but I admire all the hard work my friends from Eastern Europe put in to try and harvest it all, especially when we are under pressure. But, take note, not all were from Eastern Europe.

I must admit to being a bit apprehensive when I saw that one was British, and worried about how he would take to the work, fit in and stick at it. He has been brilliant, and a credit to the British workforce.

Neil Thomson farms 607ha in partnership with his father and brother from Caverton Mill, Kelso, on the Scottish Borders, growing combinable crops and brassicas. Some of the mainly medium loam is let for potatoes, and the farm also has cattle and sheep

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