Harvest 2014 update

Rained off from combining, but that’s an opportunity to give a quick update on the farm. Harvest is being a real test to see how patient we can be! After an average start date we seem to do a day cutting, then have to wait for the next crop or variety to ripen. I have tried not to push on too much with unripe crops, with the inevitable results.

Hereford harvest 14

Yields have been very pleasing, apart from the oats that disappointed us at 2.75t/ac. OSR was exceptional at just shy of 2t/ac. Wheats have gone from 3.5t/ac on poorer crops to 4.4t/ac on some exceptional Leeds. Peas have also been good where pigeons and pheasants were controlled. We still have about a fifth of our acreage left to cut, so let’s hope for a few days of sensible weather to draw a line under harvest 2014. One plus point on harvest is the new combine that we are very happy with, after a few teething problems.

Hereford combine

The free-fall of nearly all commodity prices is concerning. It’s a shame when us farmers are wishing weather problems on other producers around the world, but I suppose it is part of being in a world market. It does bring into very sharp focus our cost of production –  so we can best judge when to sell and which marketing tools to use. I don’t know how anybody can make these decisions if they do not know how much it costs them to grow the product.

On some of the rainy days we have been putting together details for the autumn programme of the Monitor Farm. The first meeting will be focusing around cost of production and benchmarking them against those of other local growers. We are also working towards getting the crop tolerance trial (drought and waterlogging) underway, and preparing some really thought-provoking meetings on precision farming. As an aside, we have established a 10ha cover crop trial with 10 different crops, each established two ways, each with two nitrogen rates (see picture below). I am hoping to tie a tour of this trial with one of the forthcoming Monitor Farm meetings.

Drilling the cover crop



Mark Wood is a farm manager in Fawley, half way between Hereford and Ross-on-Wye. The farm is 250ha owned, 250ha rented and 500ha contract-farmed. Mark has three full time staff, and is a member of the Rosemaund Farmers Association. The issues Mark and the farm are facing include precision farming, staff succession and achieving consistent yields under variable conditions. Mark has hosted trial work for other organisations in the past.