Farmer Focus: Amazing warm weather for Xmas in Hungary for Andrew Hunter

It is back to work in Hungary, although the Orthodox Church in Serbia and Ukraine only celebrates Christmas on 7 January.

In Hungary, we had a 36C temperature swing over five days, with it getting down to -18C before Christmas and then Christmas Day being +18C. Temperatures of up to 22.5C were recorded, making it the hottest December day since records began.

This created problems with burst pipes, frozen slurry channels and broken points on the plough. We could do with a period of cold weather to get field work finished and some of the fertiliser spread on the land coming into potatoes.

Grain prices have been slowly improving with maize trading around £95/t, strangely higher than milling wheat at the moment.

We have many exciting projects for the new year, especially a biogas plant for which we now have planning permission. The hard work starts now, though, in deciding exactly what technology we want to use and whether to go for a steel or concrete fermenter.

We have submitted a subsidy claim for the new cowshed, re-roofing of one of the old sheds with an insulated roof, slurry channels and various other costs regarding improvements we have made at the dairy during the last year. We had been anticipating the arrival of the area aid and stewardship payments by the end of 2009, but unfortunately this did not happen.

Oilseed rape has been moved in the Ukraine and we will start marketing wheat during the coming weeks. Potato packing was not too busy over the Christmas period, with the orders being relatively small. The staff were happy not having to work overtime, although I would have liked more sales.

2010 is looking like a better year at the moment with some higher prices for products and slightly lower input prices, although it is still a long way to harvest.

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