James Hosking

9 January 1998

James Hosking

James Hosking farms 516ha

(1275 acres) with his

parents and brother at

Fentongollan, Tresillian,

Truro, Cornwall. Land is

equally split between share

farming, various FBTs and a

tenancy. Crops include

wheat, oats, barley and

daffodils, alongside sheep

and cattle enterprises

DECEMBER is not normally a time when we would expect to be able to do much field work.

We were fortunate earlier in the month to get a couple of days dry enough to finish off the drilling and do some more spraying. That last bit of wheat has now emerged and is looking nice, and we hope we have sprayed all the cereals that are at risk from virus.

The end of December is our year end, so there is plenty of office work. It is a sobering experience when you see this years gross margins compared with the past two.

In the south west it has not only been politicians and currency values that have frustrated us, the weather has also done its best. A fairly severe drought in the spring, from which the crops on the thinner soils struggled to recover, was followed by an extremely wet harvest. Unfortunately we get a daily reminder of this from the straw when bedding up the cattle.

Working out next years budgets is giving me a sense of déjà vu. I remember sitting here and trying to juggle figures in exactly the same way in the early 90s. There seems little scope for cutting inputs, so we just have to hope their prices will fall to a more realistic level (strobilurin manufacturers please note). I learnt then to my cost not to try to be too clever with fungicides.

We picked the first daffodils of an early novelty variety just before Christmas. Despite the wind and the gales, the underlying temperature has been warm enough for the flowers to grow. If we do not get a cold spell before long, it looks as though we will be in for an early season.

Are you receiving? James Hosking wants manufacturers to reduce input costs to more realistic levels as there is little scope to cut back on rates.

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