Day at the races good and bad for Jim Alston

Jim Alston runs 243ha at Manor Farm, Calthorpe, north Norfolk and as Calibre Farming looks after arable operations on another 500ha. The light to medium soils grow potatoes, cereals and sugar beet

Recently I went for a day’s racing at Yarmouth with a group of friends, where my bets proved as accurate as any I have placed on the futures market.

All went well until it was time to depart. We than discovered that the organisers – one prominent potato grower and a haulier – had neglected to organise the bus home.

There were some good points to this in that a good day was prolonged. But some bad ones were realised the next morning when the world did not seem quite so wonderful.

It seemed to mirror the past 12 months of wheat prices. First prices rose and then costs went up to match, followed by wheat prices dropping and leaving us high and dry.

All our Otter winter barley is in averaging a respectable 2.8t/acre at contract quality. The spring barley is looking shaky. Despite harvesting until 4.30am we are still left with a sizeable area, and the prospect of the next opportunity is looking dangerously far off.

Split grains and pre-germination look inevitable, making my pre-harvest sales a potential liability.

To save money I thought it would be good idea to put some cattle yards currently served by mains water on to the borehole. But as we did not know exactly where the pipe was located, we dug up many other things and half the drive before stumbling on our elusive quarry.

Then to cap it all, 30mm of rain falling just after the concrete lorry had finished delivering its load meant we had to put right the mess we had created.

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