Farmer Focus: Andrew Charlton goes on ‘crow patrol’

Reading Farmers Weekly lately there seems to be much mention of increasing inputs to cereals to maximise yield.

In our own way we are doing the same, but more basically specifically protecting recently-drilled spring wheat and oats from crows.

I swear crows get worse every year they love undressed organic seed and our attempts at shifting them now take about two hours a day. Luckily, my 77-year-old father is happy to take on crow patrol duties, giving me time to get on with everything else.

A small amount of manganese deficiency is, unsurprisingly, given recent weather, showing up and I have started our usual treatments with manganese sulphate. It’s OK to use in an organic system provided you have specific derogation from your licensing body, which must be backed by tissue analysis.

That’s fair enough, but it can be a bit frustrating given how quickly Mn deficiency shows when you are waiting for bits of paper to come through. But isn’t all farming like that these days?

The last of the Impala white cabbage is coming out of cold store for local box schemes and other direct markets. Quality has held up well in store, which is just as well because orders have been quite slow over the winter.

It’s not a significant amount of business on which to form an opinion, but I get the impression that levels of optimism on the veg side are significantly below those in the cereals sector. This will be until the weather changes the market again, no doubt.

I am delighted to see that Organic Farmers & Growers, my licensors, are running the national organic cereal trials day this year, on 26 June. I find this day one of the most useful events for looking at varieties and gathering other useful information.