Farmer Focus : John Jeffrey 14/01/05

JANUARY TENDS to be our quietest month, not due to any prolonged festive hangover, but because we”re usually well caught up on our work.

Not this year though; we’re extremely busy due to falling behind in the autumn. I can blame the weather for the lack of fieldwork but not for the amount of wheat unsold or absence of a spring cropping plan.

The former is easily solved as the majority of the heavier ground has been ploughed and the light ground left can be sown in the spring directly behind the plough.

But there is no doubt I have missed the boat on the grain in store. The quandary is whether to sell now under the adage your first loss is your best loss or hold on until May/June presuming the market surely can’t get any lower.

I sold about 20% at the top of the market but I don’t want to totally negate that by selling 80% at the bottom. My intention is to try and sell as much as I can in the next month and not be left with it all for early summer.

As for what spring crops to grow this year, I am still exploring every other option available as I can’t afford to gamble on malting barley.

Again, I will need to make a decision by the end of the month. With more money coming from the environmental side of our businesses, every such scheme is being explored.

But I am sure I must be due something for my commitment to the environment.

I attended a very enjoyable shoot before Christmas where there was a record bag of 117. My contribution: A paltry one pheasant and one hare – with that level of shooting there is going to be plenty of wildlife around here.