Farmer Focus: Drought hitting Andrew Hunter hard

It’s been a busy planting season in the shortened period caused by the wet winter/early spring.

Now we’re into a drought across all countries in which we operate, leading to problems with germination and establishment.

We still have a few hundred hectares left to sow in Hungary, but the effective drilling date will be when we get decent rain. A fellow expatriate farmer has just been sectioned by the local mental health institute for professing to have seen some.

Wheats here that had farmyard manure before planting look particularly poor. The nitrogen has been taken up by the crop, but with no moisture to use it, the plants are burning up from the inside and the top dressing remains on the surface.

The maize in Hungary and Serbia has only been treated with glyphosate pre-emergence and will get a post-emergence herbicide before we have ground cover – assuming we get rain.

We’ve been busy laying irrigation pipes and will, unfortunately, have to start on the potatoes in the next day or two.

We still have a lot of old crop in store and are moving it anywhere we can find a home. Given our problems with compression damage we’ve lodged a complaint with the Czech provider of the equipment.

In the Ukraine spring oilseed rape that has been in the ground for several weeks hasn’t even germinated.

Finance is taking up much of my time as I try to complete the paperwork for subsidies on our new packing shed and equipment. April was the first window for applying. The government has changed the rules allowing up to 20% to be claimed in advance for projects to be finished by 15 December.

We’re also being hounded by the banks, who would like to use the option of a government guarantee against existing borrowing.

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