Farmer Focus: Strong straw price means baler will be out

It’s raining, so it’s my first day in the office for weeks, thank goodness.

As I look out the window at the good steady rain falling, it gives me a great boost that crops have just received what’s required to make it to harvest.

The potential is very high if we can get crops harvested safely.

About the author

Richard Orr
Richard Orr farms 160ha in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, with his wife and parents. He is an AHDB Monitor Farmer. Crops include wheat, oats, barley, potatoes and vegetables. The business also has a farm shop and beef cattle
Read more articles by Richard Orr

The weight of the rain is starting to push over the tall crop of mascani oats outside the kitchen window, reminding me just how unsure you can be of a crop’s performance until it’s safely in the shed. Farming really is unpredictable.

See also: Alarm at impending crop storage research facility closure

Potato harvest is now eventually under way. The delay in its start has meant that what we are digging is excellent quality, but there are limited potatoes in the drill.

Just as with the grain, rain has come in time to keep the main crop potatoes moving on nicely, so, hopefully, they will make up for the earlies. 

Winter barley harvest looks likely to push into August and an added factor this year is that straw prices are looking to be excellent.

Everyone has cleared out all of last year’s crop and, in the South, farmers are set to chop a large quantity of straw under their new payment scheme – so don’t expect cheap straw and don’t wait until the last minute to tell your neighbour you need it, or you may be disappointed.

Because of this, we are likely to bale more wheat straw than we chop this year, so getting a cover crop in to provide organic matter and capture the leftover nutrients is something I’d like to get right on with, as soon as the crops are harvested.

I really feel the more we do this, the greater the crop establishment the following autumn, which sets the crop up well to withstand the winter. 

It will be a delight to welcome farmers back on farm at the start of July for an AHDB monitor farm tour and I am really looking forward to some good discussions, given it’s been such a long time since anyone has been on farm. Wishing everyone a dry, bountiful harvest.

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