Arable Farmer Focus: Rain halts potato harvest for Martin Lawrenson

I always think you can tell autumn is here when the familiar sound of geese heading down from colder climes in the north can be heard overhead.

In winter, flocks of thousands of geese migrate into our area to feed on grass and stubble fields. There are always a few less flying back north in spring though, as these birds provide great sport for the local shooting community.

Personally, I can’t see the attraction of sitting in a cold, wet ditch for hours on end, although I’m assured it is a rewarding pastime. Along with the geese, the lapwings are flocking together and swallows are lining the telephone wires before setting off south. Already we have had some pretty cold nights and the evenings seem to be closing in.

Unfortunately, for many around here the changeable weather came too soon with a fair few cereal crops still left to cut. We managed to finish combining a week earlier than usual, but we still have some straw to bale when we get the chance. It has been in the swath for a fortnight already and after 50mm of rain in 24 hours last weekend, quality is bound to be deteriorating and some of it is under water.

We are ready to start putting potatoes into store, but rain has halted harvest. Ground conditions are wet and we will need three or four dry days before we can get going.

Frustratingly, we should also have been starting to harvest the first of the carrots. After a dry start and some patchy germination they have recovered and look a decent crop. They taste good as I have been doing regular taste tests. You can’t beat the taste of a freshly-pulled carrot rubbed clean on your jumper and eaten straight away. Jamie Oliver eat your heart out.

• For more columns from Martin Lawrenson

• For more columns from other Arable Farmer Focus writers