Farmer Focus: Volunteer barley springs up in wheat

May is a fantastic time of year if you are fortunate enough to live and work in the countryside and I am seeing more wildlife than ever on a daily basis.

However, I – like others – am becoming ever more frustrated when I read flippant comments on social media by influential professional persons and charitable companies about how modern farming is  resulting in a massive decline in wildlife numbers.

This simply isn’t the case. I do wish these people could be made to either prove their point or retract it with an apology. Sorry, rant over.

The farm is looking well, although we have a few more ruts than I would like to see. Travelling hasn’t been easy at times this spring and more remedial work will be required to put this right after harvest.

Blackgrass numbers are manageable and certainly lower than this time two years ago, which is promising. My biggest frustration this year is volunteer barley in wheat.

I can understand it on fields we have grown barley on in the past, but we have it both where we have never grown barley and in new seed, so it looks like some hand-rouging is required.

See also: Blackgrass battle looks winnable for Suffolk grower

Building work

Between the showers and glorious sunshine we have been carrying out some building work in one of our old grain stores. The partitions were originally made of timber and had become prone to breaking or moving, causing a degree of hassle every year.

They have now been replaced with steel uprights and concrete panels. We have also raised the height from 3m to 4m, increasing storage capacity by a thousand tonnes in the process.

All we need to do now is learn to grow bigger crops to fill it.

The elder harvest has started and so far it looks as if it could be a bumper year. My go-to reference plants are carrying more than 20% more flowers than normal, which is fantastic.

The slowdown in the weather and return to more spring-like conditions is also helping to give us more picking time – fingers crossed it stays like this.