Kevin Littleboy

1 May 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

LAST month I uttered these immortal words: "By the time you read this I will have started planting."

New potato crisping variety Aquanix has survived and is growing well in these conditions but another thunderstorm and 0.75in (19mm) of rain last night put paid to planting the Saturna again this week.

Last year we had finished planting by mid-April. The trial site of rice on the River Swale flood plain has chitted very evenly.

The wheats are at growth stage 32, and I have yet to spray some fields with a growth regulator, manganese, and herbicide for cleavers where necessary. Thankfully, I did get the first dressing of nitrogen on.

I decided to join the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, because I didnt want the farm at a disadvantage. It is important to be able to supply any outlet in this volatile and over-supplied market.

I have now been inspected. The verifier wanted to see a temperatures probe for the bins and insect traps in place. While the inspection was less onerous than we were all led to believe, I do think certain questions could be rephrased, and some compliance measures are unnecessary.

Asking a farmer whether he knows his soil type is slightly insulting, and I do not believe it is necessary to keep a sample of grain from a load once that load has been processed with no come-back. Apparently, on other inspections record-keeping and glass lighting in the grain areas are common faults.

My caring, sharing merchant, Kenneth Wilson, has launched a marketing initiative called Premier Growers Scheme. To be members, we have to be ACCS-registered, able to load a 25t lorry in 30 minutes, etc. It will be interesting to see what premium will be achievable. The words "caring, sharing" will be put to the test.

By the time you read this, I will have restarted planting. But it has just begun to you know what. Anybody got a hovercraft?

Anyone got a hovercraft? Rice is chitting well on the Swale flood plain but Saturna potatoes are yet to be planted on Kevin Littleboys farm in North Yorks.

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