Pressure is building for straw demand

Well, yet again it has certainly been an interesting season and it looks like there could still be a few surprises yet. The one fascinating thing about farming is that the weather can never really disappoint you – it’s rarely just what you want.

Even on this light land we have had to revert to the tried and tested method of drilling with a power harrow combination just behind the plough to get the job done – probably a result of having applied so much water through the summer. After our fantastic cereal harvest the season turned against us, oilseed rape refusing to get itself going, potato skins not setting, delays in clearing onions and maize not maturing.

In addition, sugar beet is way back on yield, with sugar content running well under 17% – in honesty nearer to 16.5%. Indeed, all of the growers that I have met recently are perplexed. The Bury factory is claiming that the average is well above 17.5%; someone must have found some sunlight to boost their sugars to an amazing level. Maybe they can let me know where this beet paradise is.

Good fun was had at a recent meeting on the future availability of straw. It could easily have turned ugly between those who want the straw and those who want to keep it. I think that the conclusions were that the market will decide on the true price and it served to show that the pressure is building for yet another of our products; a shame that a few still regard it as a waste product and don’t know it’s true value.

Importantly, the meeting served to tell me that the season is under way: so many options, so much CPD to be had and for some, many days to integrate into their shooting calendar. Time to make some difficult decisions. I do hope that those visiting here get their eye in and reduce some of the grazing pressure to help the oilseed rape get away.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship

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