Edward Tupper: Mixed harvest memories

Edward Tupper farms 700ha (1730 acres) on the South Downs near Petworth and manages a further 112ha (277 acres) on contract. Crops include wheat, oilseed rape, barley, maize and grass for a 175-cow dairy.

Here are some distant memories of harvests past.

Summer would bring an abundance of sunshine, dust, fluffy dry straw, harvest tea in the field, two Massey Fergusson 525 combines with 10ft headers cutting their way through 30-40 acres a day, corn coming in dry, diesel in single figures and no one having heard of the word “stress”. Pleasant memories.

Memories of harvest 2008 so far include summer yet to arrive and autumn desperately trying to replace it.

Constant heavy showers have made the farm very wet and not nice to look at. Standing, or should I say leaning, corn is a very different colour to a few weeks ago.

On the plus side, yields so far have been very good, with Solstice wheat averaging 3.8t/acre and the rape 1.8t/acre. I know the yield is there on the rest of the wheat, but it is frustrating not being able to get at it.

I hope that we’ll soon be cutting spring barley and finding out exactly how much damage the weather has done. But I feel deer will have done their usual thing – lying in it and creating large flat areas.

We seem to have an abundance of the animals here on the downs, and I know I’m not the only one who gets frustrated with the damage they can do.

Cultivations started well on the rape stubble which has had biosolids spread on it, and I am trying some compost as well.

Fields going into rape still have wheat or spring barley on them, so a quick turnaround will be required there. I was going to try for a chit of volunteers and grass weeds, but I feel this might not happen now.

Is it to much to ask for sunshine – please?


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