Mixed weather fortunes for Andrew Hunter

Andrew Hunter is MD for the UK-owned Magyar Farming Co, which in Hungary grows 3000ha (7400 acres) of combinable crops and potatoes, has 900 dairy cows and runs a potato packing business. It also farms in Serbia and the Ukraine.

We have had good weather in Hungary, allowing us to plant all the potatoes in reasonable time helped by a new bed tiller and planter, which arrived late.

It was fortunate that I hadn’t sold the old machinery as we could run the old and new when the soils warmed, letting us plant in a narrow window.

Unfortunately, conditions are not as kind in the Ukraine, where we are struggling with wet weather.

We have completed only 800ha of our 4500ha spring programme, and I’m very concerned about how late it is getting.

We have most of the machinery in place there and two weeks of good weather might change my opinion. But for now the only equipment not needing to be pulled out of a wet hole has been the office computer.

We have started planting maize and sunflowers in Serbia, where conditions are much warmer and drier.

Mark has had plenty of problems with the tractors and planter, and life would improve if the new tractor was released by the customs authorities.

It has been through its homogenisation programme, the Serbian government now knowing the manufacturer numbers of everything on it from engine to lightbulbs.

The grain market has dropped back a bit in Serbia, but is allowing us to sell and generate some cash.

Our new Hungarian workshop is moving ahead rapidly and we have started on the potato store and packing shed having submitted our grant application last week.

In theory, we could be eligible for 45% capital grant. The question is when? The ministry’s track record shows it takes about a year to get a decision.

Last week I was in London on an Institute of Agricultural Management Leadership Development Course. Not great timing from a farming point of view, but very worthwhile and enjoyable.

Andrew Hunter

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