Farmer Focus: Last year was fourth wettest in the east

Christmas and New Year are now a distant memory, not to mention an extra special birthday (ending with a zero) for yours truly.

I am led to believe that such events are supposed to make you take stock of your situation. I decided it wasn’t really that wise – best not to dwell on the situation too much, best just to crack on and hope that the present direction is the right one.

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Unfortunately, a couple of nice letters received at this time didn’t allow me to let the situation go unnoticed. The first was from the DVLA reminded me that my heavy goods licence needed to be renewed, only after having a medical and getting my eyes tested. I suppose the second letter from the NHS, reminding me that it was time to get checked over, made my visit to the doctor worthwhile, killing two birds with one stone. 

Anyway, with the livestock to look after and everyone else on holiday, there wasn’t much time to think about things, other than the £125 that it cost for the DVLA medical, that is.

It’s official, 2014 was rather a wet year here in the dry lands of the East. Actually it was the fourth wettest year in the past 25. With 866mm of rain it was almost as wet as 2012 when we had 875mm. Isn’t that typical, just as we start to fill the new reservoir.

That being said, prior to 2012 we had a run of nine years when we struggled to get to 600mm of rain here at Euston, so I am sure that the newly stored water will be called for at some point in the future.

Despite the wet year, the sugar beet harvest has been progressing well. Bulk yields are looking good, but the low sugar contents mean we will probably only just make our quota. 

We are down to the last 80ha to lift and the question is whether to lift and clamp or take the risk and leave it in the field. As is my usual policy in life, best to split the difference and do a bit of both.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.