Farmer Focus: Philip Bradshaw relieved at early finish

With some relief we finished our harvest comfortably in August rather than September – a couple of weeks earlier than last year. I hope those of you in later areas are also now done.

Much of our crop was harvested considerably drier than in 2008, which I welcomed, but which no doubt disappointed my gas supplier.

I must comment on yields, and I don’t believe that public airing of my crop output will affect the market in any way. This is a shame because although our 2009 average wheat yield of about 9.5t/ha is down from last year to a more normal level, the price has stubbornly remained awfully low, and shows little sign of substantial and much needed recovery.

We found the yields of some poor looking crops a pleasant surprise; presumably, the early summer drought broke just in time on the lighter land. Another interesting observation from a brief look at the data is that the best wheat yields seemed to come from crops following potatoes in the rotation, not something we’ve noticed before.

I am certainly not enjoying the debacle over the new season sugar beet price, and the annual indecision over whether to grow it.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the NFU-organised meeting in Peterborough, but my 2000t “quota” was represented, and the support shown by growers must have helped strengthen the union’s position.

British Sugar’s apparently arrogant stance has almost certainly eroded any remaining goodwill from growers and I fear a considerable exodus from the crop.

This is sad. Sugar beet has been important to many, and has good agronomic, environmental and social credentials. I am seriously reconsidering whether to remain a grower, but I do also feel for others affected, such as contractors and hauliers, who will share the repercussions of any reduction in area.

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