Wednesday 7th December, 2011
The viners return to their winter nesting ground having had their winter overhaul. Two are home whilst the other one is plying its trade in the Med hoping to harvest the Menorcan peas on its way past. Even though it is now feeling very damp each morning, it is still very dry.
Local sources suggest that we have had only 50% of our normal rainfall. Some local becks are not running and reservoirs are struggling to be filled. Looking further east things seem just as desperate. The river Danube is at its lowest level in living memory, with some vessels stranded up river unable to move due to the low volume of water.
Monday 14th November, 2011
During recent weeks Fen Peas Ltd have expanded their operations overseas. Having seen a period of some dormancy our Menorcan outpost has finally been drilling peas. These peas were drilled on 24th September and despite lack of rain will be ready to harvest in time for Christmas. Here's hoping for a bumper crop!
It is obviously not economically viable to dispatch a harvester so I am afraid it will be a case of employing the local "Manager" to harvest the peas!
Wednesday 24th August, 2011
It will not have escaped your attention that there have been no posts since the middle of last month. Two good reasons, lack of time and lack of camera. We have recently completed our longest season ever, 66 days. We would normally expect to be running around the fields of Lincolnshire for 50 days.
After what was a lean start in terms of yield, the rains came just right and the late peas went some way to make up the lack of yield from the early peas. By the end men and machines were tired and ready for a well earned rest. The length of the season means that for the first time for a number of years we have nothing to combine, which means we can turn our attention to 2012 straight away. Below are various images from the season. There will be more to follow as we update our website, which should be complete next month.
We were reminded what things used to be like!
Is there an Hernandez there some where?
We hosted a fact finding visit for industry representatives.
Friday 12th August, 2011
Sunday 10th July, 2011
Not a great picture, but on arrival at the field this morning at 3am, the Boys were greeted with a rave in full progress. The police were there trying to sort it out, but it was pretty difficult to make anything of those attending, I understand! Not the same as the usual wildlife you might see.
We have now completed the Geneva in Holbeach Marsh and will be on the road to Whaplode Fen to start the Markardo. A busy front end of the week, then there may be a stop. The week will also see a number of field visits taking place from customers and interested parties from the industry.
Thursday 30th June, 2011
The temperature rose, but the peas did not move any quicker so we found ourselves having to stop and wait again. It may be that this is a feature of the 2011 season. No good for us, and no good for our customers.
The plan made in the winter is to drill the peas so that we continue 24hrs a day for just over 40 days. That is however, based on average temperatures and rainfall, which this growing season has not seen as we all know. No doubt it will be the case that the peas will be ready again at the weekend!
Message for Jake. We should be in Bannister's peas early next week.
Wednesday 22nd June, 2011
The boilers are now stoked up again and the peas are ready north of Boston, so it's full steam ahead for a few days.
Friday 17th June, 2011
Tonight saw us complete the peas at Tattershall, and with the Fen not reading high enough we will be stopping for a few days. At Cereals last week Sally Elkington of Lincs FM was talking to me about the pea harvest and an impromtu interview took place. Can't remember all that I said, but the results will be broadcast this Sunday on the Lincs FM Farming programme at 7am. The Pod Squad will be tunned in!
Wednesday 15th June, 2011
Harvesting at Patrick Dean's Farm near Lincoln, who just happen to be hosting Cereals this year. You could never plan that this would happen! With such a huge volume of traffic expected there were various road closures in the area which could have proved to be a bit of a challenge, but the local law enforcement agency were more than happy to let us go where we wanted as long as we stayed clear of the A15.
We are harvesting Style which is a variety that looks like it is well passed it's best before you harvest it, but the peas are going in as A and B grade which is spot on. As for Cereals, great event, lots of impressive machinery and trial plots, and the above. Maybe we will modify a pea viner in the winter!
Tuesday 14th June, 2011
A visit by the brains fo the industry to look at some trials in one of our fields. Robert Church (Church of Bures) drilled some plots in of our fields, and some of the new material coming through from the States does look promising.
These are always good times to catch up between Groups and compare how each variety is doing in the early stages of the season. The rain of the weekend has certainly perked things up, and the crops has visibly altered. I still do not think it is enough to make up for the effects of the drought and frost, despite what others may think.
Monday 13th June, 2011
After exams and I suspect a few celebrations our students, Jamie and Nick, have landed. So now we have a full team. However we would not have got through the last few days as easily as we did without the help of Mark and Harry, who came in at the last minute to cover for the late arrivals. This afternoon on The Heath it was dust behind the wheels. So much for the rain!
Sunday 12th June, 2011
I don't know what it is about this year but we seem to be having a lot of aerial viewers! However I don't think I would wish to be in the ballon at that height! We have now had a few days hard at it with a bit of travelling around the county. As expected yields are down, but there is a significant yield benefit where the peas have been irrigated.
Today will see us complete Sleaford and then move up to Lincoln Heath in the early hours. Next week will be spent up and down the Heath, but not disrupting the Cereals traffic too much! If you are into the Classics then the picture below will bring to mind the flight of Icarus. I can report that he came out the other side, wings entact.
Wednesday 8th June, 2011
We are away! Just a day shift today to feel our way in to the crops. A difficult first few hours getting the machines set so they could pick the crop up. Had to fetch the first field. With the short straw this year it will be something that will probably need looking at all the time. Too early to give an opinion on what the rest of the crops may hold, but there is a significant difference where we have irrigated the peas. No surprises there!
Saturday 4th June, 2011
With the May weather figures out, and the word drought and 1976 featuring in the media most days, I think that people not involved in food production must surely be aware of what problems this harvest could bring.
It is very difficult to put any sort of meat on the bone yet, regarding yields, until we start harvesting. That will be soon. The runners and riders have been weighed in, no more bets being taken, and the riders approach the starting post, waiting for the starter to give the off! One more thing is that the reliable Michael returns in the morning, thank goodness.
Thursday 2nd June, 2011
The hot weather has moved things on and so we have started sampling, or I should say I have started sampling. Exams keep Michael at uni for another day or two. With first readings of 85.5 TR it is looking like the middle of next week.
Tuesday 31st May, 2011
1. We need a sampler back from university.
2. There is going to be some mixed maturity.
The peas have moved a lot in 7 days, and sampling will begin as the week goes on. With the temperatures rising, it is all pointing to sometime next week to get the wheels turning.
Saturday 28th May, 2011
If there is one good thing to say about the pea crop this year it is that the crops seem to be flowering in sequence! However, whichever crops you look at they mostly look slightly off. This is down to the drought and frost.
The frost has had more of an impact than first thought. Anything in flower did take a battering at the time, but it is now evident that anything that was above ground took a hit. Some plants now coming into flower have blind growing points and are therefore producing no flowers. The extent of the affect of the frost will not be fully felt until we have some crop harvested. That could be in two weeks time!
Tuesday 24th May, 2011
The pods are filling with what moisture they can find! Still looks like w/c 6th June for a start, but there is no doubt that the cooler temperatures of this week have slowed them down a bit. Frost damage is still coming out, and this, coupled with no rain, will lead to below average yields. Just how far below remains to be seen.
Thursday 19th May, 2011
With the peas now forming and swelling in the pods, the viners are done and we turn our attention to check the carts. Doug and Paul are now on their nineth pin I think, and are getting quicker by the minute. Even though most things are done it is incredible just how much time the bits and pieces take getting together. 4mm rain yesterday afternoon, gone by breakfast!
Tuesday 17th May, 2011
A good look round the earlies to check they are still alive! Which I am pleased to report they are. Pods are begining to fill, and the irrigation that some early crops are receiving will be of a huge benefit.
Saturday 14th May, 2011
Mother nature keeps promising, but continues to fail to deliver! The frost damage, as ever, has taken a few days to fully show its effect, and a few crops are now showing signs of stress. I think we are now entering unchartered waters. We are in a drought and nothing short of significant rain is what is required.
Tuesday 10th May, 2011
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The good, pod is developing well on the first crops with w/c 6th June looking favourite at the moment. The Bad, the frost of last week has caught some of the tender leaves, and odd flowers will abort, but it is too early to quantify any damage. The Ugly.....?
Monday 9th May, 2011
That's it, they are all in! It is all down to mother nature now, and in some cases irrigation.
Friday 6th May, 2011
As we wait for the forecasted rain, at the end of the week we are still in a dustbowl. If the rain is not significant then it could well be out with some irrigation next week. 96% in, so just a couple of days work left for drilling this year, and then a close inspection of the earlies and how they are flowering.
Wednesday 4th May, 2011
With the Met Office publishing the weather stats for April, and a question about the drought conditions in Parliament, the media began to show an interest in the problems we face. BBC East Midlands came to see for themselves and discuss it both live and recorded, bringing a satellite van but no catering truck for Stuart. They sent the reports to BBC News Channel and the local BBC radio stations. It's bound to rain now!
Monday 2nd May, 2011
As has been previously said, peas not going into perfect conditions, however these were drilled last Wednesday and have proven to be very plucky and chitted in near arid conditions.
Sunday 1st May, 2011
A quiet weekend before what may well be the final push over the next two weeks. There is now talk of rain later in the week which will be more than welcome, and long overdue. Over the last nine weeks the average rainfall for the area is normally 50mm, all we have had is 3.5mm. It is a wonder some of these crops continue to grow. Luckily for the local wildlife they provide lunch on a regular basis!
Thursday 28th April, 2011
The earlies are coming into flower! Never had flower in April before. Flower can easily be found, and if the crop continues to grow as it has done in the last seven days then it will be a very early season. It is quite incredible just how they have grown with little or no rain on them.
The picture below shows that when the pressure is on to find moisture then the pea plant can put out a good root system to find the moisture. Looking at the earlies today was a welcome change from the desert like conditions of drilling. Two quotes for you. On discussing the weather with one grower, he put on a positive spin on it by saying, "at least we are one day nearer to rain". While someone else described the conditions as "evil".
Wednesday 27th April, 2011
Operation Desert Storm continues in the Fens. It really is becoming a battle with no end in sight to the dry spell. The depth settings on the drills are nearly at maximum, and the pressure is begining to tell with a few minor breakdowns. Most of the peas are into moisture, but by no means all of them. I will have to have another look at the earlies to see how they are fairing. Some of them were lucky enough to get a storm at the weekend.
Tuesday 26th April, 2011
Still no sign of rain, but hope springs eternal. A Royal Wedding and The Boston May Fair will surely bring some! It is quite incredible just how the pea crops are hanging on. Jaguar sown in March with no rain does look well, a bit shorter than usual though.
Thursday 21st April, 2011
We continue drilling into moisture today. A number of drills going in the Wigtoft, Donington and Bicker area. A steady pace with the drill full of seed is making sure that the peas are in good moisture with some moisture above the seed as well. Next week will see us busy around Donington, Swineshead and Boston West. We are now 68% of the way through the programme, but it will more than likely get more difficult as time goes on. Have the Easter egg sales been any good in the Baleariacs?
Wednesday 20th April, 2011
It is no surprise that things are marching on. The earlies are at the enclosed bud stage, and I expect to find flowers easily late next week. Things can alter, but flowering this soon would mean an early start. Could be June 10th, but a few cool weeks could alter this.
Despite no rain to speak of since drilling these look very well. The plant is "fast" in the ground, which means there is an excellent root system. If it does carry on like this it will mean a short straw year, which can test the threshing of the pods.
Monday 18th April, 2011
As we approach the final stages of April, still no rain on the horizon. Whilst the peas continue to grow there will come a time when rainfall will be required to make sure that the plants fully develop.
We saw two years ago when rainfall was low at a particular time, one variety which normally produces 10 peas in a pod, produced only 7. A drop of 30%! Quite significant. So fingers crossed that nature will be kind and bring some rain, but not bucketfulls.
Tuesday 12th April, 2011
The first field drilled is romping on, slightly pale green, which means like all other crops could do with a drink. This week we have completed the drilling in the Moulton Eaugate, Whaplode Drove and Cowbit area, with next week seeing the drills going at Deeping, Twenty, Sutterton and Donington.
That will see most of the Markardo in before we start on the Serge. 58% of the crop is now drilled and emerging well, but rain is now more than required to brighten them all up. Worth noting that Asparagus and Tulip crops are running two weeks in front of where they are usually.
Monday 11th April, 2011
I am working on the assumption that now the schools have broken up it is bound to rain! It always does. This is about as perfect as it gets at this time of year, about 2.5 inches deep, with moisture above and below the seed. Those peas drilled a week ago will soon emerge and the temptation is to drill heavily, but my inclination is to just ease back slightly because everything is going in quite well. May not be saying the same in a couple of weeks time.
Friday 8th April, 2011
Warning shot across the bows! This is the challenge of things to come. Not going to be easy later, without some rain. Could be that we have to call in our Menorcan branch, with their experience of dry conditions.
Thursday 7th April, 2011
Note the date, and then the picture. I have been getting the feeling that we are slightly more advanced than usual, and Oilseed Rape in flower, in early April would tend to back this up.
We have now got 54% of the peas in, and move into the Moulton Eaugate, Whaplode Drove and Cowbit area next week drilling Markardo, just slowing things down a little to hopefully prevent problems at harvest. Yesterday the soil temperature touched 15 degrees C, which goes a long way to explaining the huge growth in crops seen in the last few days. It could be an early year, should we get Victor Chandler to open a book?
Tuesday 5th April, 2011
Not much to report really. It's still dry but we continue to drill into moisture. As time goes on though this could well become an issue. We are now in Holbeach March where conditions are good, I am told. Have not got down there myself yet but will tomorrow.
Another variety trial has gone in today, so we shall wait and see what it brings forward. It is now time to have a close inspection of growth rates in fields drilled in the last ten days, to see how hard we push the drilling. My gut instinct, is to slow down just a little, due to the moisture levels, and below average temperatures. Thrips have been found in some early crops, which are now getting some attention.
Thursday 31st March, 2011
Well, the rain came and then it went by mid morning. Just enough to damp the paths. Conditions are good for drilling at the moment, but the longer term view is a worry. Late land is being pulled over to hopefully prevent it from drying out. We will complete the Kirton area tomorrow, and next week will be drilling Novella and Geneva at Sutterton, Fosdyke, Holbeach and Moulton.
The early drilled peas are coming through well, and about 1000 acres are showing now. The warm weather due, will encourage good growth away from the pigeons and crows. Peas drilled early last week have chits of over an inch on now.
Tuesday 29th March, 2011
We are on what some would consider to be the best land in England. My Chairman's! I do wonder if scenes like this are what we will continue to see this spring. Bound to rain now! 15mm would be nice, no need to be greedy. Peas are going in well, and into good moisture, but the ditches are now looking low, and the land has that dry look about it.
Friday 25th March, 2011
As the sun sets after the first week of spring it has been a bit quiet on the drilling front, just 140 acres in. Finishing off Novella north of Boston, and waiting a day or two before we made a little start in the Wyberton area. 1600 acres now in the ground, however it is very noticeable that the land is drying quite quickly, with no rain to speak of in sight. Hard on the heels of the first drillings the rest of the Twinkle and the Anubis are now emerging with the Style close to the surface as well.
Saturday 19th March, 2011
Even though it has been cool, and with frost at night, these peas are growing. The first drilled are now emerging, and those behind them are growing well. When the sun is out the light land is getting quite warm, and encouraging this growth. Now that they are emerging it will become a matter of keeping the pigeons at bay!
Thursday 17th March, 2011
After their winter hibernation at PMC Fakenham, the machinery begins to return to base. Two machines will come back today, having been overhauled, and ready to go when we need them in mid June. I passed a garage today that was selling diesel fot 140.9p per litre, and it now has me thinking just where are fuel prices going to be in the summer, given the continuing unrest in the Middle East.
Thursday 17th March, 2011
Mother nature still can't seem to shift this fog that has been hanging over us, whilst the south of the country seems to be getting some sunshine. At least it's dry. Like the Olympics we have reached our first milestone for this year, just gone through the 1000 acre drilled mark. Drilling will slow down next week as we move geographical areas from north to south of Boston.
Tuesday 15th March, 2011
Not a very nice day, foggy and raw, but none the less drilling continues. We are now well settled in the Fens and drilling Jaguar and Novella. Looking back at what we did last week peas drilled last Wednesday have half to one inch chits on. So despite cool conditions things are growing.
Saturday 12th March, 2011
Good morning Menorca, and welcome to spring!
Friday 11th March, 2011
With Sleaford completed, drilling moves on at a pace on Lincoln Heath. This is high output country, with some quite large fields, which means less road work, and higher efficiency when it comes to harvest. The peas are going in to good conditions, and despite ground temperatures hovering around the 5 degree mark, things are growing. At the end of tomorrow in excess of 800 acres will be in the ground. A good start. Now down to the Fens, for what looks like a good week of weather. No or little rain forecast, and temperatures begining to climb.
Wednesday 9th March, 2011
After what seems a very long winter we are now well under way. Peas have been drilled in the Grantham and Sleaford area, and we started on Lincoln Heath today. Even though it is still quite cold, crops are growing. Peas drilled last week have 2 inch chits on, which is very encouraging. With the wind now getting up I hope we shall be able to drill down in the Fens next week.