Farmer Focus: Warmer soils give crops a boost

I find myself, along with five other local fellow farmers, writing the first draft in a quiet moment between scenes in the dressing room of the Tait Hall in Kelso where I am among a group performing the Wizard of Oz.

Now, I have to admit I am no Robert de Niro or Pavarotti, but the smell of the grease paint has, for a few years now, lured me on to the stage, where I usually get the role of guard number six, or something equally obscure. That suits me fine, because remembering lines or perfecting some intricate move on my feet is not one of my strong points.

However, my good mate Murray – “Did you know I once acted with Tilda Swinton?” – is a bit upset this year, because for the first time he does not get to take a bow on his own, and is like me just one of the duffers at the back.

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But we do it because it is refreshing to be among folk who are not farmers – it is completely different to our day job and, as any of you who may have done something similar will testify, it can be good fun and hearing the cacophony of applause at the end (or maybe not) is very fulfilling.

The week of the show is usually the very week that things start hotting up on the farm as well, and this year is thankfully unlike last year and progress has been made on the land.

I am slightly anxious to hear that the forecast is for colder weather again, but I hope by the time you read this, land work has continued and sowing may even be completed. At least this year soil temperatures are much warmer and all newly sown crops will get a better start. The difference between this year and last is most obvious in oilseed rape crops, which are already extending upwards.

Sorry there is not much farming in this week – simply put, it’s because, because, because, because, because… I expect some of you will know what I mean!

Neil Thomson farms 607ha in partnership with his father and brother from Caverton Mill, Kelso, on the Scottish Borders, growing combinable crops and brassicas. Some of the mainly medium loam is let for potatoes, and the farm also has cattle and sheep.