Farmer Focus: Sigh of relief as harvest ends

Harvest finished here on 13 September. The last field of Claire put up a real fight and both machines and men left the field after a huge sigh of relief. A big ‘thank you’ to all the boys for such sterling work in very difficult times during a harvest I shall want to forget.

The grain driers have hardly stopped and friends living opposite the farm will be glad not to hear the reversing bleeper of the Manitou and the bang of the grain bucket as I push yet more wet grain into the drier at 3am! The amount of diesel used is frightening – I don’t really want to tally up the total just yet.

On the plus side yields have been good. All the wheats will have averaged 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre). Spring barley started well at nearly 7.4t/ha (3t/acre), but as time went on that yield went down to nearly 5.7t/ha (2.3t/acre) as we lost a lot to brackling.

It was rather soul destroying seeing all those heads lying on the ground, but apart from attaching a Hoover to the front of the combine, nothing could be done. A change of variety next year might help there. Goodbye Optic, hello Tipple.

Winter oilseed rape drilling has started well and into relatively good seed-beds on top of the downs. The heavier land in the valley bottoms are very wet and will need some drying before the drill can work there.

The Petworth & District Agricultural Association is having its annual ploughing match this weekend which will see some 60 ploughmen challenge for various honours.

Prizes will also be given out for the growing crops competitions staged during the year. There is also a competition for samples of corn in sacks – maybe I should enter the best sample of chitted grain!

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