Farmer Focus : John Jeffrey 11/02/05

ABOUT THE only benefit of being so late in making decisions about spring cropping is that we can”t rush into the fields too early.

The last weekend in January was an absolute cracker and in earlier years there would have been huge temptation to get the drill going.

This happened once before and I suffered the consequences, as we were the only farm in the neighbourhood to sow early.

Indeed, we must have been the only farm in the whole country judging by the number of crows in those fields for the next month.

The crop, if you could call it that, was an unmitigated disaster. To make matters worse it was at the road end. Not only did I have to see it every day, but the neighbours had a great chuckle every time they drove past for the next six months.

As father says: “Everyone makes a statue to themselves somewhere!”

This year’s spring cropping has at long last been decided. Rather than put all my eggs into one basket, I have decided to split it three ways.

One-third will be beans, some for our own feeding and some for the protein market.

The rest will be split between oats and pearling barley, both for the local mill, only three miles down the road.

The decision is possibly a case of not seeing the wood for the trees in that it is the first time I will have dealt with them direct.

Having spent an enjoyable weekend speaking to the farmers in Islay, I was given a tour of one of their seven distilleries where the manager says he is paying too little for his malt and that they will end up suffering in the long run.

Knowing my luck, in the first year this farm has not grown malting barley, the price will go through the roof.