Ian Crawford

6 September 2002

Ian Crawford

Ian Crawford grows packing

potatoes, milling wheat and

beans on 324ha (800 acres)

of rented land from Swiss

Cottage Farm, Carrington,

Cheshire and owns and

runs 2000ha (5000 acres)

of mainly arable land in

Western Australia

DUST is flying in Cheshire and it is great to see. Sunshine and few showers have allowed good harvest progress. Grain moisture is surprisingly low so there is little drying to be done at present and, after a slow start due to breakdowns, we are at last catching up thanks to an extra hired in New Holland TX combine.

An early finish is needed as we leave for Australia in October. One sight I doubt we will see out there is a family of wild ducks swimming along the tramline ahead of the combine, as I did here earlier this harvest.

Grain quality in this part of Cheshire is down, prolonged wet weather taking its toll on Hagbergs. However, malting quality of spring barley looks promising.

A legacy of our disastrous experience with liquid fertilisers is still haunting us. Any wheat crop after potatoes which received the liquid treatment has not performed. In fact, I would go as far as to say they are the worst yields we have ever had. This year we have used a quality compound on all our crops and they all look much better for it.

A month ago we cleared out the last of our potatoes from the cold stores, giving them away to local dairy farmers. I have never given produce away before and it hurts. Local growers tell me prospects for this season look as bad as last year with prices as low as £35/t ex field. I shall miss growing potatoes, but I wont miss working for nothing. We had some great times with potatoes; great fun and great returns. But sadly those days are over. Gone are the days of bulkers lined up and down the drive waiting to be loaded out of store with a telescopic loading shovel. Loading five bulkers before lunch on a Sunday, that was fun.

Not a lot to report on in Western Australia this month though grain prices are rising: lupins reaching the equivalent of £100/t, canola £200/t and noodle wheat £120/t. &#42

I bet we dont get ducks swimming down the tramlines in Australia, says Ian Crawford.

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