July on the farm (2022)

Harvest in Full Swing (Photo: Graham Roberts)

Richard Fonge writes:

The present weather takes me back to 1976 when we had three months of sun and high temperatures, the only difference being that we just got on with life. A drought was declared and a Minister appointed called Dennis Howell M.P, a former first class football referee. Soon after his appointment it started to rain in September and he was dealing with floods! The severe hot weather brought swarms of ladybirds looking for food as the aphids their main supply had perished in the heat.

Back to the present and harvest has started on Barrow hill with the barley. The grain here will be fed to livestock. The straw (the stalks) is a valuable commodity. It is used for bedding, but barley straw is also a good feed and especially in a year such as this as a substitute to grass as it burns up under the sun. Pour some molasses over it and you have a nutritious feed for cattle or sheep.

On the Stuchbury footpath the beans like all crops are dying off rather than ripening. The pod numbers are good but due to the lack of rain over the last month, like all other crops the seeds are small.

All the lambs in the first field have now been marketed, leaving the ewes to their own devices. 

The oilseed rape on the Moreton or gated rd has extra value this year with the shortage of sunflower oil coming from Ukraine.

Grain when stored has to be at a certain dry matter. 16% for short term. 14% for long term storage. Oilseed rape. 8%. This year all grain should be harvested at these levels if these weather conditions continue, saving money on drying costs.

Especially welcome this year with fuel at its present price.

Farms get bigger as does the machinery to run them. This is inevitable with the shortage of people wanting to work on the land. In this part of the country we have family farms, large estates and contracted farms and they all share a problem of finding staff. A concern for the future.

Believe me there is not a more rewarding job than seeing the fruits of your labours when they are harvested,  whether that be a vat full of milk each morning or a field of corn harvested or prime livestock being marketed.

Richard Fonge



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