Saturday 28th June, 2008
A busy week harvesting peas at Sleaford and on Lincoln Heath. We completed what was ready in the early hours of Saturday morning and are now parked waiting for a couple of days for the next fields to mature. Whilst it has been a pretty pleasant week weather wise, we still could do with more sunshine and heat to move all crops along. Next week will see us get all the heath peas harvested and move over to the Spilsby area, before we drop down into the Fens for a variety called Jaguar.
Compared to previous years we are running about a week behind on the calendar, which shows just how cool the spring was. This could catch itself up, but I doubt it.
After last year and the shortage of crop, people are asking how are the yields? It is really too early to call, but we've had nothing outstanding so far and whilst some of the mid and late crops do look well, lack of continued sunshine will begin to have an effect.
Thursday 26th June, 2008
Harvest continues up on Nocton Heath near Lincoln. We had a visit from a retail customer today to enable them to get a feel as to how the season may progress. It's a bit early to start forceasting, but we are begining to see signs of footrot (where the roots die and crop yields are devastated) in some of the later crops. This will be due to how the previous crop was harvested and the soil has compacted, leading to poor root development. We will keep monitoring it.
The Boys are in a 180 acre field, approx 90 football pitches! This will keep them busy for a couple of days. They are crusing along nicely, the only hiccup today being a few factory problems which happen, nothing major.
Friday 20th June, 2008
We are away! The Boys made a good start on two crops at Sleaford and Wilsford this week. It is too early to call as to how the crops will do, but we have an ongoing battle with rooks and crows that were damaging these two crops severely so I decided to take them a day or two earlier than we would normally do. The machines ran well after their winter overhaul, and the new one also performed well. It also must be said that Pinguin's factory at Bourne also performed well. We will now take the weekend to carry out a couple of jobs and then start at 4.00am on Monday morning running 24 hours.
There are a number of fields that will be ready in the Sleaford area and then we will make for Lincoln Heath for two fields, before coming back to Sleaford to clear up the rest of the crops in that area. (that's the current plan but we have to remain flexible as to where we go so as to maximise crop yields). However carefully you drill/plant the fields they do not always come in order. This can be down to a number of things, but it is usually previous cropping.
The peas in the Tattershall, Scrafield and Toynton areas are behind those on the Heath which is good. So we have a bit of pressure on early next week.
Tuesday 17th June, 2008
Today was PGRO open day where people from the vining pea and pulse industry gather to look at the trial work they carry out. It is an independent organisation and is recognised and well respected around the world.
As well as the formal part of the day it is also a chance to catch up with other growers from around the UK. There were two topics that seemed to be foremost in peoples minds. Ever rising costs that were out of our control and the future plans of the EU to ban certain chemicals that we use. The first point unfortunately we are in the hands of the hands of the oil producing countries. For the second point the correct and safe use of chemicals allows us as growers to produce food of sufficent quality and quantity for the population. If these chemicals are withdrawn it can only lead to less food at higher prices. You could argue and debate the topic for some time.
As the reading of the bill nears there will be strong lobbying from all sectors of our industry to the relevant MEMP. It is also worth noting that our own government has a duty to protect the food supply for the UK under the food act of 1947!
Thursday 12th June, 2008
Today we had our pre-season get together at Swineshead. It's a day when the men fine tune what we need to take with us for the season, almost like packing for a holiday! Whilst it is a relatively relaxed day all of the "team" appeared up for it, which is important given the fact that when we start that's it for six or seven weeks. No social life, but just peas, peas and more peas!
There are only one or two more items to bring together then we are ready to roll. The cooler weather has slowed things down but we will start sampling the crops on Monday and see how we go from there.
Tuesday 10th June, 2008
Road trip today around peas south of Boston, starting at Kirton, then Algakirk, Sutterton and through into Holbeach Marsh. Down to Whaplode Drove, Spalding, Crowland, Bourne, Dembleby, Donington, Swineshead Blackjack and finishing in Boston West. Over 200 miles. Not good for the carbon footprint! Anyway the crops looked well. There are odd pockets of pigeon damage and the crows are begining to land on those crops that are near to harvest. They make a hell of a mess. What I was looking for was how good the weed control had been and if the crops were flowering in sequence. I'm pleased to say that in the main weed control is good, and, with the exception of one field, they are flowering in planned order.
It's a good time to look at the crops at this growth stage, because it is the first real opportunity to assess if you are going to have any clashes at harvest, or fields coming out of order. A major problem we do face this year is volunter potatoes. We did have a chemical that we could use, but this was withdrawn last year. Over the last five years considerable research has been done into what we can use to get effective control. Unfortunately a solution has yet to be discovered, but the work continues.
The Organic peas have been an eyeopener this year. Mechanical weed control was not easy, but the pea plant has grown much taller, and very nearly smothering the weeds. They look well now and if the weather carries on like this they should do better than 2007.
Friday 6th June, 2008
Back from my travels, and how things have changed! All crops have moved on tremendously, and you can see by the photograph that they are begining to pod up. At this stage the Sleaford area will come pretty much all at once, followed by those on the Heath. Which is good. It is vital to maintain continuity of harvesting for both ourselves and our customers.
Last year was dreadful in terms of management due to the weather, and tested everyone. I hope that this year we have a much more consitent run with the harvest. The peas on the coast at Friskney have good flower on already, with little south of Boston, so fingers crossed north and south will not clash!
Prepartions are well underway with the machinery to get them ready for harvest, with little left to do. All the men will come over to Swineshead next week and familiarise themselves with the machines again, and then all we have to do is wait. The wet weather of the last ten days has put back the predicted harvest date, but I still anticipate this to be early 20s of June.
Wednesday 4th June, 2008
Still abroad, now in Spain looking at peas! We are guests of Elsoms Seeds and Danisco Seeds. It has been very wet here, similar to our problems last summer! In Spain though it dries very quickly. They have nearly completed their season and say that they will be under budget. I am with the brains, allegedly, of the UK industry and we all agree that there has been huge investment in the industry here in factories and technology. It would appear we are lagging behind. I will post a fuller report on my return.
Sunday 1st June, 2008
Bit of a busman's holiday today. It was Farm Open Day around the UK today, where farmers invite the general public to see how crops are grown and also get up close to livestock. So we took our Pygmy Goats off to Bishop Farm Partners near Sibsey not really knowing what to expect. The day was very well run with a lot of attractions for all ages, from steam engines to modern tractors, and a wide range of animals.
It was quite evident that a lot of work had gone into the day and this all paid off with a lot of people coming through the gate. It is now becoming an important part of the Agricultural calendar, and gives us an opportunity to engage with the public, and I think it works.
The Agricultural correspondent from The Lincolnshire Pride was there, so if you live in Lincolnshire I am sure that you will be able to read a full report in the next issue.