Well I have to say I have never known a year like it. A good start, then wet, then snow, then ridiculously dry, but fortunately better harvesting weather to finish it off.
As I write we have about five days combining left, 40ha of oilseed rape left to drill and the cultivations is pretty much up behind the harvest gang. So all in all, we are well up with the work and let’s hope a very good start to the 2012 harvest year.
Our yields have been very variable, with the light land bordering on disaster, but the heavy stuff going well, and we don’t mention spring barley. As one of my contract farmers said: “Some of these yields are at the level we were at in the 1970s”. Thank God we have some decent prices, and as a result I think we will take as much money as last year with much cheaper storage charges, so it’s not all bad.
The sugar beet continues to look really good, and despite a few weed beet to pull out, there have been very few problems. Let’s hope this trend continues as British Sugar has increased my tonnage for next year. So with the introduction of winter barley as well, I should be able to get more from my light land farm.
Also I feel my decision to not buy tonnage previously has been vindicated, even if this tonnage extension is only for three years. I must say that if anyone out there really knows how our sugar beet industry works, can you let us all know. All I know is it is a very good crop for this farm so I keep growing it, sod the politics.
Finally, with the Rugby World Cup looming, let’s hope we can all get drilled up in good time to watch England make it to the final and the All Blacks to choke in the quarters.
Arable Farmer Focus: Richard Cobbald