WTFIH @ Thriplow Farms, October 2016

A lot has happened since the last column I wrote. Harvest started in the middle of July with the winter barley, of which we had two fields growing down next to the A505. It wasn’t a great beginning as the yields, and quality, were very disappointing. Next came the oilseed rape, and again the yields were bad. One of the big problems was that huge areas of some fields had been entirely eaten by pigeons, so there was no crop left to harvest; over our entire farm we lost maybe one third of our plants like this. Next followed the wheat, oats, peas and spring barley. Everything had one thing in common – it wasn’t as good as I had hoped it was going to be. This was a real shame because up until July the farm had looked to be in great shape, but in the end a lack of sunshine at critical times really held us back, and meant a lot of the grain did not swell as it could have done. The one bright point was our beans, in particular the winter sown varieties, which yielded really well, and certainly above what I was expecting given what had come before.

So that’s another year over, and it all starts again. We planted our rapeseed in the middle of August, into very dry and dusty soil, but a huge slug attack meant that we had to replant over half of it two weeks later. Now that problem is over, we are suffering with little insects called flea beetles. Getting rapeseed to grow can be quite tricky sometimes! Towards the end of September we will plant a small amount of winter barley, and then the main job of drilling half the farm with wheat starts. This year I’m hoping for a cooler autumn and winter so that we have a better chance of controlling all the pests without chemicals. Fingers crossed.

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