Farmer Focus Arable: Variable harvest expectations for Neil Thomson

“Notice of Intended prosecution.” My heart sinks. Not again. A clean licence for a change, then two notices in one week. I scan on. “Vehicle registration number… has been photographed doing 97mph in an area where the limit is 50-97mph? This is serious. Shanks’ pony beckons. I reread it properly this time. The number is correct. And the make? Well, it’s a John Deere. My mood lightens and it’s with some pleasure that I tell my accusers to go away. I am not looking forward to the day when a John Deere can do 97mph.

Stewarding some excellent classes of Simmentals and chatting to farmers from all corners of Scotland at the Highland Show recently reinforces how the needs, opinions and state of farming in each region and sector are so diverse. The west, for example, would be happy not to see rain for months, the north east and central regions report a promising harvest, while we in the south east are a little more circumspect.

I would say my crops have improved visually from a distance, but on closer inspection I’m not so sure. There is the fear that rain may have come too late for crops on thinner land and put the nitrogen into the head of the barley, lowering its quality.

No doubt I will get a good idea of how my crops relate to others in the area when I get thrown out in the first round of the Border Crop and Grassland competition, which will have taken place by the time you read this. I was persuaded to enter because it has been struggling for entries, and probably accurately reflects the struggle many have had getting crops established and thriving. No one likes to show off their farm in anything other than its Sunday best.

But as the competions maxim has always been “it’s not what you hae, but what you do with what you hae”, then there is hope for all, including me. Watch this space.

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