What a wonderful summer it has been, as September draws to a close we continue to enjoy lovely weather as the days shorten and the nights start drawing in we reach the final push. The last eighteen months in arable farming have not been pleasant from a weather perspective. The resulting financial implications will endure for a further year, meaning I am having to look hard at my cash-flow figures and having regular conversations with the bank manager. However the farming calendar revolves and we start looking towards next year’s crops, so far it has been perfect conditions to start the new farming year.

All of our rapeseed was planted in warm moist soils, enabling this most delicate of plants to get off to the best possible start during the crucial first few weeks of its life. Next we turn our attention to planting the wheat crop. Again the conditions are perfect for the crop to grow, with warm and moist soils. If it’s perfect for crops to grow, the same rings true for the weeds, which (you may be surprised to hear me say this) is a good thing.  Rather than rushing ahead to plant our wheat, I am currently nurturing the weeds to grow. By encouraging as many weeds as possible to grow now, we can easily kill them off with a mixture of cultural control from raking the soil, backed up with spraying them off with a herbicide. The more we do now, the less competition in the following wheat crop. If we get it right, fantastic.  If we get it wrong and the weather suddenly changes to cold, wet rain, we have a repeat of last year, where we couldn’t get the crop established at all. I am nervously optimistic that we can’t have two disastrous years in a row and all will be good this time round. With wheat planting starting, some long days and nights keeping the drill going, should see the end of the autumn planting with great success.

Farming is becoming very much a topic that people are interested in learning more about. I was delighted to see the recent BBC series ‘Harvest’ in which three different farming systems were followed throughout the year observing what it takes to grow our food, cumulating in the all important harvest. It was refreshing to see agriculture portrayed as a modern, caring and efficient industry, growing fantastic quality food, using the latest techniques backed up by knowledgeable hard working people. Of course modern agriculture has by its very nature to be sustainable, both economically and environmentally, a message I have been talking to people about for years and something that LEAF farmers can and do deliver. However for the BBC to portray agriculture in this way, unapologetically, without the hair-shirt, unrealistic ideals that agriculture and food production can be achieved in some romantic fashion, was a great breath of fresh air for everyone. By show casing the very best of our industry, is not only a great advert for UK Agriculture, but also gives the consumer a refreshing outlook of what actually happens on our farms. Congratulations to all involved; the farmers and their staff, and especially the BBC for presenting the programs in this way – long overdue I say.

In the oil side of the business, it has also been a busy few months. We have had a few staff issues but, I am pleased to report, these have been successfully sorted. I have again got a fantastic team, which is the most important asset any company can have. We are all looking forward to getting togged up for the annual Calsberg UK Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards on 17th October, in which we are finalists. Whether we come home victorious or not, I am sure everyone will enjoy a well deserved great evening together celebrating all their hard work.