Farmers happy all is safely gathered in

THE 2011 harvest at Poolham Hall Farm is now complete.

The last 20 acres of winter wheat was harvested on September 1 and it was the only wheat to be combined at Poolham dry enough to tip straight into storage.

As far as yields are concerned, the picture nationally has shown huge variations, both in wheat and barley. While some areas had average yields, others saw that five-year average reduced by between 20 and 30 per cent.

Speaking to farmers in the Horsington area, most are pleasantly surprised by their yields. However, growers on the sands of Woodhall Spa have had a poor harvest unless they were able to irrigate their crops during April and May when the heat and drought really took its toll.

My own crops have yielded significantly better than I could have hoped for.

Although no records have been broken, I have harvested a good few wheat crops, in particular a field of J B Diego wheat, which would have achieved more than four tons an acre drilled.

No sooner is one year’s harvest gathered in than preparations for next year’s harvest are already well underway.

My neighbouring dairy farmer has baled all my straw and cleared the fields.

Fertiliser has been applied along with both Limex and ground lime to rectify a few acidic areas within some fields prior to drilling oilseed rape.

In preparation for drilling winter wheat, the plough is still the best way of cleaning up the stubble. Even the heaviest of my soils are crumbling well after the plough, and provided that the land is pressed within two days, a seedbed is almost produced, saving considerable costs of further cultivations.

The only crop to have really suffered this year is our grass, with silage yields down 50 per cent down and little prospect of a third cut.

To add insult to injury, I am having to supplement the cows and calves with last year’s third-cut silage.

The easiest way of knowing when the grass is greener on the other side of the fence is when the cows decide to push through a good barbed wire fence to feed on the stewardship margin on the other side.

I do not want to be called out at 1am again to put cows back in the field!