Kevin Littleboy

6 March 1998

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

FEBRUARY having been so warm could cause us a few problems; the forward winter wheat is at T1, which means we are over four weeks ahead of the norm.

I have resisted applying any nitrogen for fear of accelerating lush growth, which I will be unable to keep clean and upright, and because of the apparent abundance of mineralised nitrogen in the warm soils.

The winter barleys growth pattern is more reliant on daylight hours, so it will be fertilised with the oilseed rape after this cold snap.

The oilseed rape is further forward than I had wished, even after drilling it in September. This winter has disappointed the pigeon shooters, as there have been few birds eating the rape, so the crop looks the best I have seen since its reintroduction to the rotation six years ago.

We have certainly not sprayed any fungicides yet, as this cold weather (hope it brings some frosts) might do the trick. Having said that I have seen sprayers in winter wheat recently – I wonder what I am missing?

We have graded out and sold all our potatoes, including our over-sized Hermes. All contracts for this year have finally been discussed, although one big crisping company has still not finalised what it requires. It is disconcerting when one is about to plant a crop not knowing exactly the terms and conditions of storage and delivery.

The growth of the stubble turnips is so good this year that it is taking a little longer to eat off than expected, so none of the potato land has been ploughed yet. Probably a blessing in disguise, otherwise I may have been tempted to work this land.

The turnout today in London was fantastic, and I only hope someone actually listens to all the grievances from the countryside and the rural businesses that we are all so reliant on. The vast numbers attending should at least stir some reaction in No. 10. &#42

Kevin Littleboy – hoping all the rural business messages from last Sundays countryside march get through to politicians.

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