Andrew Blenkiron looks forward to the NFU conference

Think that I may have mentioned something about the Calcutta Cup when I last wrote. Thanks to Allan Wilkinson and his colleagues at HSBC, I had the amazing opportunity to watch England get their grand slam hopes off to a good start – what a fantastic day we had. Let’s hope for a successful outcome of that particular challenge.

Given the company and the fact that the euro exchange rate had moved significantly in our favour, there was a lot of talk about fixing the rate for this next year’s single farm payment. Some of the farmers in the gathering had taken the plunge and “fixed” the rate on at least some of their payment, others said it was too early; we will see. As with grain prices, it is far too easy to be greedy and miss out on an opportunity. Then when all the pub talk starts about record prices and the best euro rate, many can only feel inadequate.

As the winter meetings draw to a close and the build-up for the spring rush gets under way, I have to admit that I am looking forward to one last bash of the season; for me that will take the form of the NFU conference in Birmingham next week. What an opportunity to catch up with pals from around the country, hear their issues and, hopefully, find some answers from the many interesting speakers.

Back in the dry lands of the Brecks, most of the sugar beet land is now ploughed, the drill checked, seed delivered and all are ready for a beginning of March kickoff. No doubt a month of snow will follow. With much more land to prepare for vegetables and forage maize, the workload bottleneck is tightening, combined with lots of spraying and nitrogen applications to wake up all of those sleepy crops. The heat is on.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship

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