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It has been a glorious day and I hope that you too are enjoying the fine weather. Spring really is here - finally!

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I hope that this newsletter finds you surviving the stresses of yet another lockdown, and that you are still managing to enjoy your garden birds.

Many of you will have noticed that there have been some significant changes to our business since December. The two main ones being the move away from our previous courier APC, and the fact that you are now receiving your goods in cardboard boxes.

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Combine Harvester Fire - Meon Valley Times

We had a very lucky escape on the evening of August 8th - when our combine harvester caught fire.

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Harvest time is nearly upon us! For me, it is the most exciting and enjoyable time of the farming year; the culmination of a year's work for Richard. It can also be an anxious time; will it all go well? Will the weather stay dry and warm? Despite thorough servicing and a lot of pre-harvest preparation, a combine seems to be an unknown entity until it starts working! We had some mechanical trouble last year (and the year before!) so we are really hoping this year will run smoothly, and if we have some long, dry summer days with evenings like these (photos were taken last year), that will be much appreciated too.

Summer evenings

Cleaning jobs have been completed; the grain store, combine and grain trailers are all ready for action, and we have had a chance to do some painting and general maintenance around the farm.

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These last few months have been very stressful for many people as we have had to adjust to dramatic lifestyle changes, some of which have been incredibly tough, and we are hoping that easier times are around the corner for us all.

Our farm crops are all suffering the stress of this long drought period, and they are all trying to save water the best way they can. The hot weather, combined with many days of really high winds has really reduced the relative humidity of the air. The wheat is showing significant 'leaf curl' - an ingenious way to reduce the plant surface area and hence evaporative loss but we are really hoping rain is on it's way. It is incredible to think that those are the same plants that survived drowning during the severe flooding we had in the Autumn! The real extremes of weather that seem to be becoming 'the norm' are certainly a challenge and no two years are ever the same.

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We left behind 6 months of the wettest weather ever and last week the ground was baked dry after all the amazing recent sunshine we have had. One extreme to the other!

Some of our wheat on the heavier clay drowned and died, but there isn't much we can do about that now; just nurture the surviving crops in the best way we can. Those who follow my news will know what a torrid time Richard was having with cabbage stem flea beetle attack on our oil seed rape. I can now show you the effect that a cabbage stem flea beetle infestation has on a rape crop!

Rape field after cabbage stem flea beetle attack

Our rape field after an attack

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rain over farm
 
January Farm News is still dominated by the wet weather and the impact 4 months of continuous rain has had on our crops.
 
Sian's Dad records the daily rainfall and December '19 was the wettest in 34 years of recording. As you can see  25.23" fell from September to December; it's no wonder our crops are drowning! More...

news from the farm

It was a harvest of two halves. A dry spell, followed by three weeks of rain and then the sun came out again. Those three weeks of continuous rain were not happy weeks for farmers and our nerves were shredded as we waited to see what impact the bad weather would have on our crops.

However, we were not as badly affected as other areas of the UK, especially Yorkshire, where one poor farmer had his whole farmyard washed away by torrents of water. More...

We were expecting June to be a scorching month but it’s been surprisingly damp! We can’t complain because it’s kept our crops happy and healthy. So, what’s been going happening on the farm this month?

Mud Glorious Mud at The Cereals Event

On the 17th June Richard headed off to the annual 'Cereals Event' at Boothby Graffoe, just south of Lincoln. This is the main technical event of the year for arable farmers, and the best opportunity to learn about advances in arable farming. More...

Richard finished spring planting yesterday, with the red millet going in well. The canary seed was planted about a month ago but has been struggling in the dry soil conditions.

The beans are looking strong, but they too need a good drink. Richard planted them deeper this year to help the roots find the moisture.

Planting the millet in these very dry conditions is a risk - the seeds need to be deep enough to find moisture, but not too deep or they won't grow at all! More...