Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Tim Piper

Tim Piper farms at

Churchlands on the edge

of Romney Marsh, Kent.

Wheat, barley, oilseed rape,

herbage seed and vining

peas occupy 890ha

(2200 acres) of the

1105ha (2730 acre) unit

IT didnt need an expert meteorologist to work out that, having had approximately 147cm (58in) of rain in the year to Apr 30, a long dry spell would follow.

Our spring barley and spring rape are suffering seriously from lack of moisture and spring wheat, while looking considerably better, certainly wont overload the combine. Inputs to all spring crops are being kept to the bare minimum. Spring cereals are racing through their growth stages and, in the hope of keeping them growing, we will try tospoon-feed them with liquid nitrogen to enhance green leaf area and boost proteins when we get to the milky ripe stage.

We are getting to that time of the year when all those early spring decisions on weed control come back to haunt us. They were made "with the economics of growing wheat foremost in mind" but, as little patches of black grass and wild oats show their ugly heads above the wheat, one wonders whether the economy was justified.

Travelling around the countryside it would seem there are many other people in the same position, a lot considerably worse. Trade estimates for a 12m tonne wheat harvest are being optimistic I think. But only time will tell.

Vining and dried peas are enjoying the warm sunny weather. Vining pea harvest is only just around the corner with a start at the end of this month or early in July. We finished making the first cut silage yesterday and will now concentrate on cleaning out cattle yards and grain stores.

Normally we are eagerly awaiting harvest, but this year I have to admit to a certain amount of trepidation. I know it will not be good but somehow I am hoping it might not be as bad as we fear.

Who knows what lies ahead for farming in the next 4-5 years following Labours election victory? The probable new Ministry of Rural Affairs name bears a striking resemblance to Monty Pythons Ministry of Silly Walks! &#42

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