After a better-than-average summer, we now seem to be paying the price here in the North West with a very disappointing September, which is usually fairly settled.
We have had three weeks of dull weather, with numerous spells of light rain that has prevented me from finishing harvest.
I have been snatching a couple of hours cutting now and then between showers and am now down to 10ha of spring barley and oats, but I can’t get a couple of full dry days together to get it wiped off.
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This is very frustrating, as yields of spring crops have been good for our farm, with the best so far managing 7.2t/ha at 15%.
I have 32ha of straw lying in the fields waiting for a few good drying days to enable me to get it all baled up.
There is still a good demand for straw, with prices almost double that of last year. This highlights the severe shortage, which is not being helped by low straw yields, particularly from spring crops.
Ignoring the prophets of doom
We have, at least, been able to get on with autumn cultivations and have oilseed rape established, and plan to start drilling winter barley and wheat by the end of September.
My new power harrow/drill combo has just arrived, which I hope will help achieve better establishment and straighter rows.
It replaces the previous combination, which I bought back in 2004, so I think I got my money’s worth.
Whether I am sensible doing any of this at all is questionable, as I see the “prophets of doom” have been busy this week, driven by the media, predicting all sorts of disasters come next April.
Planes may drop out of the sky, there will be no electricity, there is even talk of storms, tidal waves, no wine and even a shortage of sperm for IVF. Perhaps we should all crawl back under the duvet and wait for the end.
But I think we farmers are made of sterner stuff – we have faced many challenges before and survived, so I suspect most of us will survive this one.