Harvest!

The highlight of any farming year has got to be harvest, it is what we are working towards for the twelve months beforehand.
The farming year technically starts in autumn when some of next years crops are planted(or drilled)

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This year was a tricky season for good crop establishment because of the wet weather. We have got everything planted in the ground in reasonable time. However slug wars are now underway, with some crops having to have slug pellets spread on them to ensure that the little monsters do not nibble all of the growing shoots. Oilseed rape and crops after oilseed rape are particularly popular feedstuffs.
Looking forward to next year prices for next harvest are already out there so we are debating on agreeing a price on a few tonnes of grain already as prices are better than this year.
Come spring there will be some more crops to plant, peas for Birds Eye and some spring barley. This year we managed to get everything planted in autumn but if we did not there would be extra crops to drill such as beans.
After fertiliser and chemical applications to control pests harvest time rolls round.

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The first crop to be harvested are the peas destined to reach the freezing factory in Hull within 90 minutes of leaving the field. Peas are a crop that require no nitrogen fertiliser(they make their own) and usually no insecticides. Because they are drilled late and harvested early they fit well into our busy schedule.
The next crop to ripen is winter barley. To be good enough for malting barley used for beer production it has to have a low nitrogen content. All grain that leaves the farm has to have a moisture content of 14.5% or below so that it will not go mouldy. This year we were able to harvest all the barley below this so we did not need to dry it.
The wheat was a different matter. In August the days are longer and warmer so we would hope to harvest at about 15 or 16 percent and not have to dry much.
Repeated cycles of wet and dry on mature grains can cause them to start to germinate in the ear while still on the plant. Even if this does not happen the quality of the grain will deteriorate. Later on we will harvest the grain at a higher moisture content because it becomes imperative to get it safely in the shed. This leads to increased costs.

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Finally after the grain is sold and leaves the farm we get paid after 30 days. As we still have a lot of our grain in our sheds today in the middle of October, we still have no income for some crops planted well over a year ago.

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