Farmer Focus: Dreaming of summer

Martin Lawrenson and his father Stan farm 146ha (360 acres) of mainly peat land at Northwoods Farm, Pilling in Lancashire growing cereals, potatoes, oilseed rape and grass for horse hay and haylage. They also have pigs, poultry and beef cattle.

Oh, to be in England in summer with long balmy days and fields of ripening corn swaying in the afternoon breeze.

Sorry, I was just day-dreaming.

What I meant to write was: Oh, not to be in England in summer with its short, grey days, torrential downpours and howling winds sweeping across the sodden landscape to flatten the blackening corn.

Some of you may have guessed that it’s been a bit moist here during the past month so wet that I’m thinking of fitting the tractors with periscopes.

After getting the winter barley at the end of July, the combine didn’t move for four weeks.

Although crops are not yet taking too much harm, we need to start cutting soon if quality is not to be compromised.

Of more concern is blight spraying of the potatoes.

With perfect blight conditions, seven-day spray intervals should have been the order of the day. Unfortunately, on some of the wetter land, that’s become impossible, so intervals have lapsed. Hopefully, with a better weather forecast we’ll be able to get to these crops soon and probably burn them off.

On a brighter note, potato lifting has continued, with all the Accord earlies having been dug. They came with an estimated yield of 19t/acre which we are happy with.

We are now into the Victoria, which also look to have yielded well and are a lovely bold sample.

Hopefully, by the time I write again harvest here will be finished and we will be starting to store potatoes, but with all the wet weather and blight I can see that there could be problems ahead.

Anyway, I must go and check the weather forecasts again. If you look hard enough at plenty of different ones you can usually find one that you like.

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