WE have had some fair weather recently, just in the nick of time, providing perfect conditions for silage-, hay- and grain-ripening.
This gives us good hope for a decent harvest, so the farm is hotting up with activity to ensure the best possible summer. Grain stores, driers, trailers and electrics are all being checked and readied in anticipation. We hope to begin harvest next week, starting with the winter barley.
My ever-optimistic father says we could be in for a bumper crop this year but, be warned, there is an old saying: “A lot made is a lot wanted,” which means we could be in for a long, hard winter.
However, wheat’s most yield-sapping disease, Septoria, has reared its ugly head on the farm earlier than usual across the country this year.
The disease has been encouraged by the absence of a cold, frosty winter and the recent wet weather.
The rapid spread can come from leaves rubbing, splashing raindrops and can even occur in heavy dews.
Disturbingly, experts warn that Septoria could cut yields by 50 per cent in very severe cases.
Should the threat materialise, it would prove bad news for our exports.
Many people don’t appreciate the UK relies on merchant shipping for 95 per cent of its imports and 75 per cent of exports and our sea ports handle more than half a billion tonnes of goods a year.
More than half the food eaten in the UK is imported. For example a staggering 465,000 tonnes of potatoes are imported every year to support our passion for the humble spud.
July sparks an abundance of produce for a quintessential British summer.
This is the month we’ve been waiting for: a glorious harvest of fruits and vegetables that are best enjoyed with a minimum of fuss.
After a spell of lovely weather strawberries, raspberries, currants – red, white and black – are now ready for cream teas and jam-making. Even the gooseberries should now also be sweet enough for desserts. If you have a glut, freezing can be the best possible option.
Finally we have good news for our rural communities.
Following an independent review commissioned by the BBC Trust, the television station has vowed to improve its coverage of rural affairs.
Author of the review Heather Hancock said: “We are all rural consumers: we eat food from UK farms, we enjoy leisure time in the countryside, we value its biodiversity, landscape and tranquillity – this explains why the BBC's coverage of rural affairs matters.”
We hope that statements, interviews and opinions will be less skewed and discussions about news items such as bovine TB, conservation and CAP can ultimately be handled appropriately and without bias at last.