Thursday 21st May, 2009
The last field is being drilled today 20acs of Organic peas destined for Waitrose. After the rain conditions are good, the soil is warm and not too wet so the peas should get away quickly. An inspection of the crops in the Spadling area yesterday highlighted the problems that we will face with regard to erratic emergence. It's not too bad but will make a difference to yield at the time of harvest. Now that all the peas are in the next job will be monitoring aphid and moth. I am not expecting them to infest the crops yet, but when it does warm up then they will inevitably become another problem that will need dealing with.
Wednesday 20th May, 2009
Then there were pods! The first pods of the year. Following flowering, this is the next sign that things are on the move. This crop should be ready just after the middle of the month which is about what we would expect. I looked at most of the peas on the lighter land yesterday that were showing the most signs of stress. I am pleased to say that they have picked themselves up after the rain. In some places our crops have had over 60mm of rain in the last 5 days. This amount has now soaked in through the profile of the soil. It will not repair all of the damage caused by the recent lack of rainfall. Our last field of conventional peas will be drilled today, and we then just have 20 acres of organics which will go in on thursday." I note the comments from our Menorcan correspondent, however I do not think that we will be able to claim the cost of a holiday on expenses, despite what the nation may think!
Sunday 17th May, 2009
You can tell by the look on their faces that it is good weather for ducks! Yes, in answer to our colleague in Menorca, it has finally rained! Most welcome. I had a cunning plan, encourage people to get irrigators out, have a quiet word with the media and finally visit church on sunday. One of them worked, not sure which one! It will not repair some of the damage, but will certainly save the most recent drillings, where germination was going to be difficult. We have not quite completed drilling but when it does fair up, it is not too serious a job. Attention will begin to turn to mid June, and getting the men together to get things ready for our travels.
Tuesday 12th May, 2009
It is now unbelievably dry. Drier than at this stage of 2007! We are promised rain later in the week, but have been dissapointed of late with the forecast. As you can see Growers are using all means they have at their disposal to get a crop established. Here we are irrigating before drilling, applying one inch of water! Even one inch of water is only just getting down to where we want to be. In another case we will be irrigating after we have drilled. The worry is that if and when it does rain, will it know when to stop. It's not just peas that are signs of stress, most crops are now begining to look off colour. Wheelings from last years wheat harvest are also showing. As this month goes on time will need to begin to turn to preperations for harvest, and getting the crew together in early June to familiarise themselves with the machines again.
Saturday 9th May, 2009
The first flowers of the 2009 crop! This would suggest a mid June start. The variety is Prelado and has always looked well and in front of other crops. Having an early field allows us to blow the cobwebs off the harvesters and ease us into the season. We are now 87% of the way through our drilling programme, and so should finish next week. The last 10 days have seen some of the most difficult drilling conditions in recent years. It is now a case of monitoring the crops and getting all the equipment ready."
Thursday 7th May, 2009
You would not believe that there is a 6 metre drill in that cloud of dust! These peas are going into moisture and should get away OK. Again though, we are constantly losing moisture everytime we move the soil. Our fears are that we end up with a deluge of rain. It is still a bit early to predict, but I think it would be fair to say that at this stage it is hard to see us getting good yields. In fact if I was selling peas forward, I would be holding back. For the past three weeks we have been forecast some sort of rain. We haven't seen any! So how is it that the forecasters seem able to predict a dry summer, when they are finding it so difficult to forecast a day or two ahead!
Thursday 7th May, 2009
We are now in what can only be described as desert like conditions. The constant wind is drawing moisture from the land quickly, which is making drilling difficult , and putting all crops under stress. The picture above is of a crop on some of the best land in the UK. At first glance you would say that it is the headlands under stress, but this feature is evident across a lot of crops, and not just in the low places. The compacted wheelings of previous crops are also begining to show up. This is a direct result of the poor wheat harvest conditions last year. It just goes to show how what has happened in the past has a huge effect on following crops.
Wednesday 6th May, 2009
Despite a picture showing a healthy crop, I think it is now fair to say that conditions are very much like 2007! Something that we were all trying to forget! It is very dry out there and proving a constant challenge to get crops established. In the main most crops have germinated well, but there will inevitably be fields where the soil varies which will lead to erratic emergence. This makes life difficult at harvest. We are now in the final run in and will hopefully have all the peas drilled next week. However we will need rain if we are to get anything like a normal crop.