I don’t think I can ever remember starting harvest and haymaking on the same day.
The former is about three weeks later than normal, while the latter must be nearer five weeks late. Everybody seems to be in the same boat with balers highly sought-after and contractors almost on a pool basis, directing resources around to make the most of the long-awaited dry spell.
On top of the rush out in the fields, the shepherds have been busy this week spongeing some 800 ewes so that lambing can be under way on Boxing Day. Easter 2013 is at the end of March so we must get lambing off to an early start to ensure the lambs will be ready in time.
We completed winter barley harvesting this afternoon, for about the eighth season running it was all Carat and this, once again, will be our only choice for 2013. Despite being off the Recommended List for a while, it has been a very consistent performer on our farms and it remains the first choice of Jordans, with whom we have a pearling contract. The very encouraging barley yields we have had this year have kept our hopes alive for the wheat, rye and wheat crops we still have to harvest.
Today we have just started harvesting our seed crops of turnips and forage rape. These I am less confident about as, despite a belt and braces fungicide programme, alternaria still seems to have taken its toll. Instead of swathing all these crops, we have sprayed the majority with a pod sealant and followed up with Reglone (diquat) as the closeness of the crops to the ground and underfoot conditions made swathing look the wrong option this year.
Saturday this week will be a real one-off as I accept some hospitality to go up to the Olympics to see beach volleyball at Horseguards Parade. While I might be wishing for some good weather for harvesting on this day, there might be another reason less connected with farming for my wish to come true!
First-generation farmer Robert Law farms 1,500ha on the Herts/Cambs/Essex borders growing cereals, sugar beet, forage rape and turnips for seed. The farms are in a number of environment schemes and carry a flock of 2,500 ewes. He also manages 500ha of Nottinghamshire sand land.