Jon Parker worries about the horseburger effect

Spring is here. Well that’s how I would normally start an article at this time of year. Anyway the snowdrops are coming out, so surely it can’t be far away.

We’ve already had 80mm of rain, which is about 12% of our normal annual rainfall and 25cm of snow. The land needs to dry up or there is a real threat that a lot of spring crops will not go in the ground especially on saturated heavy ground.

The last thing we need to be doing is putting spring seeds into cold, wet seed-beds. How long will it take for some of this land to dry out? If it takes too long we are then faced with a late harvest date and the possibility of being back to square one this autumn in terms of preparing land for winter crops. I see a real possibility of much fallow land in places, but as much as I hate looking at bare fields one has to be realistic about just how wet it is.

Last month I took a tongue-in-cheek look at the Britishness of wheat. Sadly not a day goes by now without yet another food-related story breaking about horsemeat from Romania. Now it’s happening on these shores and the worry about all these food scares is that trust will inevitably be broken and that takes a lot of restoring. No doubt the game of pass the buck will start, but ultimately will it be the British food producers who will suffer?

And my final thoughts this month are with the family of Ian Symington, who sadly and unexpectedly passed away earlier this month. Ian was a true Norfolk farming stalwart who will be greatly missed by all that knew him.

Jon Parker manages 1,500ha, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on a medium to heavy land, for Ragley Home Farms, predominantly arable growing wheat, oilseed rape, and salad onions. There is also a beef fattening unit and sheep flock

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