Farmer Focus: Domestic tasks not Jim Alston’s forte

I can stick rice pudding to the side of a bowl better than I can weld, and I now know it’s not a good idea sorting out transport arrangements for potatoes while toasting tea cakes.

My wife’s recovery from her broken hip five weeks ago has been remarkable considering my abilities with all things domestic.

Looking at winter-sown crops in this area it seems this year’s bumper ones will soon pass into distant memory. All but the earliest-sown drilled in good conditions look pretty ordinary.

Oilseed rape is dormant and vulnerable to pigeons. Barley and wheat are sitting there, shallow-rooted in sodden soils and don’t appear to be making much progress.

Some potato fields normally drilled by now look like battlefields and sugar beet harvesting in wet weather does the soil no good at all.

A dry time in May or early June will make the 2007 harvest look like a bumper crop.

Having attended an evening put on locally by Dewing Grain and Openfield to look at this and next year’s prospects, it seems the world will not add significantly to record low stocks.

Consumption is growing while at the same time the pound is falling in value, so the price should go up. Perhaps the futures market has it wrong.

The weather forecasters say it will stay wet and cold. Perhaps they have it wrong despite access to the most sophisticated computers.

My old ploughman said “new moon – new weather”, but he is definitely wrong (new moon was 27 November).

Surrounded as I am by such sound new and old advice, I am sticking to the idea that what I grow is worth whatever I like until I sell it. And with wheat reaching £185/t just a year ago there is plenty of scope.

Happy Christmas.

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