I recently spent Sunday morning checking and feeding sheep on our dwindling stubble turnip crop, and after 25mm of rain overnight both the sheep and I looked fairly miserable.
Some of my pain was self-inflicted as I’d subjected myself, along with 29 others, to 70 minutes the previous afternoon chasing something which turned out to be far from melon-shaped.
My spirits lifted, however, when I recalled my late predecessor on this farm reminding me of the importance of plenty of winter rainfall on our chalk soils.
We are only too aware of the country’s recession, but farming’s fortunes have lifted in the New Year.
Cereal prices have risen by nearly £30 in two months for both old and new crop, while fuel prices have fallen by nearly a third.
Sheep prices are very strong, and signs are that this will continue through the year as the falling currency allows us to export and the continued decline in sheep numbers here and abroad causes shortages.
Fertilisers are less promising. Neither nitrogen nor base products have come back in price since last year’s rapid increases.
We’ll again use soil N-testing to see how much the various wastes and manures we apply have contributed and to assess optimum application rates.
Our pea variety choice is still to be made. After many years there is renewed interest in the crop, probably prompted by the increased area available for spring cropping in many parts of the country.
We have been on the receiving end of many offers to grow particular varieties with end values being pushed up by the day.
While I was considering this spring’s plans my British Sugar fieldsman rang – once again wanting me grow more tonnage this year saying: “We’re looking for another 300,000t but would settle for 200,000.” What a turnaround.