Farmer Focus: Patience runs out to get drilling

Just as there seemed no glimmer of hope in the wheat market, a political hiatus has seen the prices rise again.

A sneaky way of sending the wheat price hurtling back to £200/t would be to send a copy of a 1980’s GCSE geography atlas to Vladimir, c/o The Kremlin, RU1; with the pages of the USSR highlighted. They will probably need laminating so when President Putin is out doing his manly pursuits he will be able to wipe them clean and prevent him mistakenly turning right rather than left when he heads south in his quest to reunite the motherland.

The Lincolnshire countryside is alive with activity after the recent spell of fine weather. There is no better sound than hearing tractors working in the distance – well, except for a very poorly Ford we have locally that sounds as if someone left a spanner in the engine when it was overhauled.

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I must confess that all the bustle of machinery is disconcerting for a farmer that until recently was riding the gravy train of a wheat/oilseed rape rotation. Normally this time of year is spent spraying and fertilising, with only the changing of filters and nozzles to keep me interested.

Now I find myself incessantly digging holes and pushing the soil thermometer into the cold, wet clay, trying to convince myself that conditions are now right for me to be busy, and regain some kudos at the pub.

Alas, today my patience finally snapped, bearing in mind I have been patient since September, and the drill was taken for a spin. The initial findings were encouraging, but after my second run I decided that this is not known as winter cropping land for nothing and I would best be served by remaining patient.

Every day that now passes is a day closer to the first cuckoo being heard. I am not especially superstitious, other than avoiding the number 13, manhole covers and ladders; but is there really any scientific basis for the notion of cuckoo barley?


Will Howe farms 384ha of medium to heavy land at Ewerby Thorpe Farm, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire, growing wheat, oilseed rape and winter beans.