Potato harvest begins for Martin Lawrenson

Potato harvest has begun with the first loads of Accord leaving the yard.

It always feels good to start selling as you can see some return for all the expense and hard work that we have put in. Unfortunately, it looks like the returns are not going to be that good with prices around half what we were getting at this time last year.

With the cost per/ha of establishing the crop rising dramatically due to fuel and fertiliser price increases, it doesn’t leave much room for further price falls before we reach break-even point. Yields, though, seem slightly up on last year and quality is excellent, which at least means we can keep moving the crop. Hopefully, prices will stabilise as more processors come online and the school holidays begin.

All cereal crops look pretty good with the spring barley just beginning to turn, which has prompted me to get the combine out for its annual service. Hopefully, the mice will not have set up home in the cab again, although after bad experiences with the little rodents before, I now place bait boxes in the combine to try and control them.

We are in a constant battle with wild oats. We have usually kept them under control with Axial (pinoxaden) on the worst fields and roguing the rest. Walking the fields getting bitten to death by horse flies was an annual treat, but nowadays we don’t seem to get the time. A chemical control programme may have to be started next year to cure the problem.

It is with regret that this is my last Farmer Focus article, as I have decided to let someone else have a go. I have enjoyed the last three years. Thanks for all your comments, advice – and abuse – that I have received during this time. Best wishes everyone.

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