Well, our prayers were finally answered, and not long after I wrote last month’s column, we finally got the rain which was so desperately needed. We ended up with exactly 50mm in the month of May, and there have been a few top ups since, which were perfect. All of our autumn sown crops have probably had enough water to get them through to harvest, so the next ingredient required is sunshine – and it looks like we will get it. Of course, if it get’s too hot for too long I’ll start complaining that we need rain again, for our sugar beet and the other spring planted crops. I talked last month about how I did not like to venture down to our fields by the A505, as they were looking pretty horrible in the drought. Within two days of the rain everything had turned bright green, but unfortunately there was already quite a lot of damage done, so the crops will all be a bit thin down there. The rest of the farm looks quite good, although it’s unlikely to be too much above average; we never really know until the combine goes in at harvest anyway.
Our spring crops are a bit of a mixed bag this year, with the sugar beet in particular not looking very good at all. We tried a new method for drilling the seed, which worked OK on one field, and poorly on the other one, up near Foxton. The seed was trapped under a hard layer of soil, and in the dry conditions they could not grow properly, as a result the plant population is too low. Now that it has rained, the surviving plants have managed to get going, but they are at least a month behind schedule. It will certainly not be a vintage sugar beet harvest this year.
For the first time, we have set out traps for Pea Moths in our pea fields, which work by using hormones to attract the moths, which then get stuck on a little sheet of glue. I’m glad we have done it, as there have hardly been any caught, which means we won’t have to go and spray for them later, which we normally have done every year as a matter of course. It’s only a small cost, but who wants to kill off all those other insects when we don’t have to?