News from the Field - Summer 2018
I think 2018 is going to be imprinted on most farmer’s minds forever - we've had a year like no other...
We started with the wettest spring since the early eighties and now have prolonged dry weather last seen in the much-talked-about summer of ’76. Put these two together (and throw in the ‘Beast from the East’ in the middle) and we’ve had a year like no other, many farmers I speak to firmly believe it’s been the worst in their lifetime. Nevertheless, the show must go on and the hot, dry weather has brought the crops to ripening point early, meaning that harvest time has started sooner than usual, but inevitably with lower yields.
Whilst arable farmers are not getting quite the harvest they hoped for, livestock farmers are really feeling the pressure too. A lack of grass for grazing for their stock is becoming a real issue as grass is getting scorched off in the heat. For many, as well, there is a real likelihood of a shortage of forage for the winter. Fields that were due to be cut for hay & silage have had to be grazed meaning that they can’t be conserved for feeding over the coming winter months. As an industry, farmers do tend to look out for one another and I have heard many stories of farmers sharing what spare feed they have with their neighbours, knowing all too well that another day the boot could well be on the other foot. Similarly, we are very grateful that with our Farm Manager, Martin’s recent departure to pastures new, David Lodge has agreed to help us with this year’s harvest and with establishing the 2019 crops.
Looking to the autumn, ironically the livestock industry’s losses this year will be the arable industry’s gain, as a lack of food will push up grain prices (for animal feed) and straw prices (for animal bedding). With so many variables out of our control, such as fuel prices and weather, we are currently looking at global forecasts to try and gauge what crops might be in demand and therefore provide a better return. All this, of course, is frustratingly linked to what happens with Brexit, which will have a large impact on what the country can import and export, potentially having a huge effect on the available markets and subsequent price of our crops.
Once again, we thank you for your patience in the village as we gather the harvest in. We do try and keep disruption on the roads for a minimum… at least as I write, we aren’t dashing about having to dodge the rain showers!
Mark Robins - Estates Director