Thursday, 18 July 2013

Harvest is comming

As we bask in this beautiful weather many farmers’ minds are turning to harvest. The winter barley is just turning and despite the hot weather, harvest is likely to be several weeks later than usual. However, this is much needed sun which will hopefully help fill out the heads of corn which last year simply did not develop properly because of the lack of sunshine.

Those livestock farmers who are growing maize will also be delighted to see the good weather because most of the maize went in very late and was slow to germinate and grow. In early July maize should be about knee high but many crops I have seen around here are well short of this but provided the sunshine continues it should grow by several inches a day and so there is hope that even the late sown crops will produce a sensible yield later this year.

However, some winter sown crops in particular look very poor and patchy due to the wet weather last year which meant that establishing a seed bed was nigh on impossible and so it is anticipated that in general crop yields will be down. Indeed those farmers who held their nerve and did not attempt to sow crops in difficult conditions last autumn may well have made the correct choice in waiting until the spring to sow the fields.

The disadvantage of spring sown crops is that they generally yield less than autumn sown crops and are therefore less profitable although input costs in the form of fertilisers and sprays also tend to be a little lower which helps underpin the bottom line to some extent.

But, there were plenty of farmers who did not hold their nerve last autumn who have some very poor crops in the ground. In some cases the extra costs that have been spent on re-sowing all or parts of their land will simply have not been worth it and they would have been better to spray the crop off and leave it fallow for the season in hope of getting a seed bed established in good time this autumn rather than throwing good money after bad.

So, although this spell of good weather is welcome, the aftermath of last year’s appalling weather is still to play itself out in what is likely to be a poor harvest this year with winter cereal and oilseed rape yields down sharply in particular.

James Stephen MRICS FAAV
Rural Practice Chartered Surveyor, Wells

T: 01749 683381

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