Like many other growers, we are further ahead with our autumn work than we have ever been. In fact, we are almost grinding to a halt and will need to be a bit patient.
The main outstanding task is the drilling of 300ha of Mascani oats across the farms. Most of these are conservation grade oats for Jordans and Ryvita, while the 80ha grown in Nottinghamshire are for seed. On the Royston farms, most oats will be following wheat. At present, there are too many unchitted wheat grains and unthreshed ears lying around on the stubbles to allow a start with ploughing, so these areas are being cultivated again in the hope of rain.
The choice of oat varieties is much simpler than wheat. A manager at a national seed company told me that in the past month he had processed 36 different wheat varieties through his plant. Furthermore, he had to contend with a bewildering combination of seed dressings, bag sizes and designs in a season that was only nine weeks, compared with the more usual 12 weeks.
Many thanks to all who supported our quest in the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award. Nationally, more than 330 farms entered. It was a great honour to be Eastern winner and to get to the final four in the national competition. Over 22,000 members of the public voted to select a winner from the four finalists. This has been a very positive story for farming and the sheer number of entrants has raised awareness of what growers are actually achieving out on their farms.
We attended the Farmers Weekly Awards night in London last week, as our stalwart of the Royston farms, Mark Moule – alias “the fourth emergency service” – sought to become the 2011 Farmworker of the Year.
Arable Farmer Focus: Robert Law