Farmer Focus: Cloubursts haven’t helped, says David Shepherdson

Harvest is almost upon us, so we really could have done without several cloudbursts, delivering 2in of rain in 24 hours on to the winter barley.

With the grain store still half full going into harvest and the price on a constant downhill slide, a storage solution had to be found quickly. We’ve had the floor of an old dutch barn concreted; I’ve never seen concrete go down so fast.

Unfortunately, our budget for getting outside help ended here and we’ve spent the past two weeks building the block walling ourselves in scorching heat. Converting such sheds is far from ideal, but it will provide us with valuable short-term storage.

No decision has been reached on next year’s varieties, though I expect Robigus will take the lion’s share of the wheat.

I’d like to see contracts from maltsters to show commitment to farmers to sow next year’s crop at a sensible price. I just hope they won’t suddenly appear on the market as soon as the combines roll and take all the barley at knock-down prices just because farmers don’t have storage to hold out for a price rise.

The new seed drill arrived safe and sound and I hope it proves as reliable as its predecessor.

To give you an idea of its internal capacity, it comfortably housed two illegal immigrants as far as Dover – a novel mode of transport.

We’ve stuck with Amazone, as the last combination more than proved itself last autumn, drilling into atrocious seed-beds. Seed placement with the RoTeC discs is perfect.

The biggest upgrade in the three years we’ve had the last drill seems to be the price. New machinery prices shot through the roof when the cost of metal did. But when metal came back down the machinery price didn’t seem to follow – strange that.

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