Farmer Focus: Beet and maize yields affected by drought

A cereal harvest of yet more broken records. Not necessarily yields this time, but records associated with the high temperatures – it certainly has been rather warm.

I don’t know about you, but it certainly caused a few issues here, the risk of fire, attempting to cool grain, and not cutting in the worst of the heat to name a few. 

Thankfully, yields of cereals have been reasonable and of course incredibly dry. So now that it’s in the shed I should probably capture some of the good prices before they deteriorate further.

See also: Top variety picks for winter wheat growers in the South West

About the author

Andrew Blenkiron
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.
Read more articles by Andrew Blenkiron

If only I could report on such a positive note with regards to the sugar beet and forage maize, both are now struggling with the lack of moisture and yield has most certainly been affected.

Unfortunately, all of the irrigation water has gone on the potatoes, carrots and onions.

Just keeping them functioning has been a massive and costly exercise, especially with electricity for the pumps at three times the price of last year. 

One thing that the extreme conditions have brought has been masses of media attention with regards to the plight of farmers.

I have had the opportunity to engage with reporters on a few occasions over the past month.

The real challenge is being able to make a meaningful point in the two minutes that you have available and much more importantly is to trust them enough that they won’t edit you to suit their story.

Of course one way around this is to only do interviews live – but that has its own dangers! 

In terms of engagement with others, we have also had the opportunity to show a team from Defra around in the past month.

Discussions on the clean air strategy and the shared nitrogen plans were the order of the day. That’s all certainly going to be something that will challenge us in the future.

To make the air that we breath healthier and protect nature it seems likely that storage and application of organic manures, ways of applying fertilisers, and modifications to livestock diets and housing are all under the microscope. 

Who knows what the weather will bring through August.

Will there be enough moisture to get our cover crops to germinate, will the ground ever soften to allow autumn crops to be sown and much more importantly for us here, will the river flows increase so that we can start to fill our reservoirs ready for next year?

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