Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Kevin Littleboy

Kevin Littleboy farms 243ha

(600 acres) as Howe

Estates at Howe, Thirsk, N

Yorks. The medium sandy

loam in the Vale of York

supports potatoes, winter

wheat, rape and barley, plus

grass for sheep

WITH no more than two days settled weather in a row in the past two months, everybodys patience has been tried to the limit.

The farm staff are betting on whether we will start lifting potatoes before the crisping company closes its intake stores and whether we will finish before Father Christmas comes down the chimney. However, I am pleased to say we have finished drilling barley, but plans for early drilled wheat have failed miserably.

The annual cereal statistics, announcing an increase in wheat areas and yields to produce a 16.5m tonne crop, should highlight to all arable farmers the very important work that British Cereal Exports does.

However, accurate and valuable as such surveys are, the announcements timing was a tad insensitive for those in Yorks and north of here this year because numerous people hadnt finished harvest.

Grain has been coming in so wet that combines have had to stop to unload the wet grain because there was not enough engine power to cut and thrash the wheat at the same time. Combine drivers have been told not to stop unless the windscreen wiper cant cope.

With the intended reorganisations of MAFF and the NFU, and the new role of Regional Development Agencies, it will become imperative that levy-paid organisations such as the HGCA and BPC play a bigger role in keeping levy payers informed and the powers that be up to date with the realities of their respective commodities. That said, levy payers must also play their part in using these organisations to their mutual benefit, rather than being spoon-fed.

Talking of grants, maybe the government could grant-aid farmers and staff who wish to take up the services offered from a caravan that has been "dumped" near the farm on the A1. A billboard on its side promotes what can only be described politely as "professional services".

Driving past, I had mistakenly read part of the wording as "message". Such support might go a long way to calming the very frayed nerves and despondency in the industry… &#42

"Ill bet you were lifting potatoes at Christmas…" Wet weather has been causing all sorts of headaches for growers in the north, but Kevin Littleboy (right) has a suggestion for those who need to unwind.

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