Farmer Focus Arable: Edward Tupper sticks with spring barley

So has anybody drilled anything yet? There’s always a great debate on whether to drill in February or not. Some say that if the conditions are right then it can be beneficial, but others say that the soil ought to be just starting to warm up before drilling.


Having drilled early before and waited nearly three weeks before the barley emerged from a cold soil, keeping the crows and rooks at bay, I have learned that spring barley grown here at Littleton likes to be drilled around the beginning of March.


A great deal of thought went into deciding whether or not to try and swap some spring barley acreage for some spring sown red wheat.


The market price for malting barley has really concentrated the mind on trying to decide what the best thing is to do. Having done some research into this new crop and heard some good and bad stories about growing it and the pitfalls to look out for, I thought I would give it a go.


Having made my decision and set about choosing an appropriate acreage and the best the fields, I was actually looking forward to trying something different when a thought occurred to me.


What if everybody else is doing the same as me and deciding to drop spring barley from their rotation for this new crop? Would there still be a chance of that large premium or would it be eroded away by an oversupply, just like the spring barley?


So with that in mind, I decided to stick with what I know best and continue to grow spring barley, because the government has told us that we are out of the recession and people will be able to afford more beer, thus bringing a dramatic price rise. Umm, keep dreaming.


• For more columns from Edward Tupper


• For more columns from other Arable Farmer Focus writers

See more