Arable Farmer Focus: Martin Lawrenson assesses French crops while on holiday in the Vendee

I am writing this sitting in 30C heat on our annual holiday in the Vendee, France. I don’t know too much about what is going on at home as I try not to ring home too much in case things are going pear-shaped.

I did, though, get a call from home two days into the holiday; it was Geoffrey, our right-hand man, who was sitting in the middle of a potato field where the sprayer, which he had never used before, had stopped working. It is not an easy job to talk on the phone someone through the workings of a machine – especially one you have only had for a month.

Hopefully, it is now working as I haven’t heard from him again, either that or they are stretching the spray intervals to the limit.

Potato harvest is gathering pace although yields are not great, mainly due to the the long, dry spells we have had, although as we left, the expected monsoon season had arrived. I knew that as soon as we had a hosepipe ban enforced, it would not stop raining. Hopefully, the rain won’t mean that we get sudden growth and a lot of cracked potatoes.

The sight of combines working through the wheat here is making me keen to crack on with harvest when we return. Winter barley should be finished with the earliest spring barley not far behind. Enquiries for straw have been coming in thick and fast, so it looks like prices are going to be holding up.

Crops look great here, but apparently it has been very dry as well, so yields may have been hit. There aren’t may fields left to cut, so it looks like harvest is just about over with only the maize and sunflowers still left standing.

Anyway, after all this hard work writing, I think it is time for another beer and maybe a swim.

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