Farmer Focus: Close call with crop fire and dual carriageway

Surely we will look back on harvest 2018 as one of the most relaxed ever. We have been able to start up the combine as early as 8am and cut at 14% moisture.

The heap in the grain store may not be as large as we would have liked, but with prices heading the right way, the value of it may be just as great.

The high-oleic, low-linolenic (Holl) oilseed rape has run at 3.5 t/ha, wheats have failed to reach double figures, and the hybrid winter rye has done a reasonable 7t/ha with few inputs. It also made loads of straw, which we are baling.

See also: Video: Farmer shares lessons learnt fighting huge crop fire

We have also cut some Explorer spring barley for a neighbour that has yielded a respectable 8t/ha, which is when we had flames in the field…

A close call

Our best guess is that the combine picked up something from the roadside that went through and ignited the straw.

About half an acre of standing barley went up in smoke.

Hew drove the combine rapidly to a safe point. Fortunately for us the wind was sending the fire away from most of the crop.

Less good was that it was heading for the verge of a dual carriageway.

We dialled 999, and the fire service arrived very quickly. Due to my neighbour’s fast work ploughing a fire break, the fire was apparently out by the time the fire engine rolled up, but you never know if it is still smouldering.

Unbelievably one fire officer was heard suggesting they did not really need to turn out.

There has been quite a bit of attention in the media about the drought and how it has affected yields. I even did a little piece to camera with ITV myself.

The report did mention possible food price rises, even though we know they have very little relation to the price of wheat.

But to my mind, it is good to make people aware of where their food comes from and to make the connection between the fields and the supermarket.