Posted on 21 September, 2016Comments (0)

Farm News

Farm News

The last article that I wrote for the Villager was in early August 2015 and I commented how many insects and butterflies were on the farm in that spring – the harvest that followed had the highest yielding crops to date but the prices received for the grain went down. I am now writing these notes after most of the 2016 crops have been harvested and it has not been a bumper year – the wet weather in June affected the flowering period (yes all crops do have flowers – but not the pretty colourful ones) and so the grains have generally been smaller and some were diseased or shrivelled. Below average yields have been reported around the country and one grain marketing company has estimated that the UK wheat harvest is 13.9 million tonnes compared with 16.2 million tonnes last year. The good news is that for my group of farms last year’s drying charges of about £14000 have been reduced to £3300 this year after the dry August, with only the beans to cut, and the quality is reasonable.

France, Germany and the Baltic states have had a poor harvest with France especially affected losing 12 million tonnes compared with 2015. Conversely Russia, the USA, the Ukraine and Australia had above average yields. All of these variations demonstrates how the world is dependent upon favourable weather and is potentially only one harvest away from a serious shortage. The difference between production and consumption is not large and the buffer stocks, even at the current globally high levels, are only sufficient for about 4 months.

The Brexit vote and consequent weakening of the pound helped UK exporters, and food products were no different. At present the UK exports £8.9 billion of food and drink each year of which 75% goes to the EU – it will be interesting to see how this changes as the Brexit situation evolves. The UK’s farmers or landowners received about £72 per acre for eligible land in the 2015 harvest year but despite this polls in farming journals showed that a clear majority voted to leave the EU.

My sheep flock have had an excellent year and we should end up selling over 1.9 lambs per ewe thanks to Jacques who is Dad to all of the lambs and Sally who looks after them at birth. A few of the older girls have been culled and others suddenly seem to look sprightlier when I am looking at them – an attempt to persuade me that they are OK for at least one more season. About 12 new flock members are about to arrive and are known as “tegs” – over 12 months old and not having produced any lambs.

Julian Lewis

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