©Jim Wileman

It is getting to the time of the year when I feel I can ‘lift my nose from the grindstone’, albeit fairly briefly.

A decent run of autumn weather has allowed us to complete the potato and onion harvest with relative ease.

Although the weather has been on our side, the challenge has come from our multi-site and varied crop operation.

The team spend a considerable amount of time moving product around to get it in the right place in the right condition.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

In the interests of efficiency, although more often through necessity, several of our buildings are designed to be multi-purpose.

For example, daffodil bulb-drying followed by temporary grain-tipping followed by potato storage.

It does beg the question whether efficiency would be improved if I had enough buildings to allow single use, as at least the previous job wouldn’t impinge on the following one.

When the weather is catchy we have a chance to move things around on the wet days, but it’s not ideal when conditions are good and we want to keep going.

Yields on both the potatoes and onions have been fair and, if I’m honest, better than I thought they would be a couple of months ago.

Quality is generally good, which is important to us as we are storing for a large proportion of the year to meet our customers’ needs.

My biggest concern is the level of blackleg in some potato stocks. It can be a real problem if not carefully managed and is something that all the seed industry needs to keep working hard at to eliminate as far as possible.

As always, careful store monitoring will be key.

Drilling is proceeding apace, with the bulk done and just the later-harvested fields to finish.

Our primary wheat outlet is for feed and so the chosen varieties for this autumn are Evolution, Revelation and Diego as our core varieties, along with blocks of Lili, Leeds and Avatar.

However, I am also growing a block of the milling variety Crusoe, which has a specific end-use as flour in the pastry of a local bakery business.


Jeremy Oatey manages 1,100ha of arable land near Plymouth in Cornwall and is 2013 Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year. Cropping includes wheat, barley, OSR, oats, beans, potatoes, onions, swedes and daffodils