Organic moves afoot

18 September 2017

Harvest is almost finished. Only one field of Organic Spring Barley to cut, and one field of Organic Beans. Hopefully we will get the Spring Barley cut on the next good, dry day. The beans could be well into October as they are still quite green. The spring barley was grown for the malting trade but sadly only two lorry loads made the specifications on nitrogen level of not higher than 1.7. The rest had to be sold as feed, which is very disappointing. I suppose it highlights the unpredictability of growing Spring Malting Barley.

The harvest results have been quite disappointing this year apart from the OSR. The crops looked very good early spring, in fact maybe too good. The long dry spell, from end of March to late May, possibly having a more serious effect on the crops, and subsequently the yield. The OSR has been sown for nearly four weeks and is looking well apart from two fields that are quite slow to get established. We have used the same machine and methods for the past three years with good results. This year, for some reason, the establishment of the crop is very slow for no obvious reasons. One thing for sure, it certainly isn’t lack of moisture!!

Winter Barley sowing has started and will hopefully be finished soon. It’s been a bit like the harvest – having to stop for days of heavy rain and waiting for it to dry up again. Very frustrating.

On the livestock enterprise things are starting to get a bit busier. We had a local contractor in with his Claas self-propelled forager to cut 30 ha of Organic Spring Barley whole crop. We left one or two tracks in the field but on the whole, not too bad. The whole crop will be used as part of the fat cattle ration when they come inside for the winter. We have also baled and wrapped 322 square bales of Red Clover silage. I think these will be surplus to requirements as we have plenty in the silage pits. It’s certainly been a good year for growing grass in this part of the country.

We have bought 671 Organic Blackface lambs to help eat the surplus grass. These will be grazed over the winter and sold fat. We have also bought 332 Organic Texel x mule ewe lambs to help increase our breeding flock. Ally and Ross had a good day out at the Kelso ram sales! They came back with seven good new rams. These will be mated with the ewes in the coming months. They have also been busy getting ewes ready for mating, trimming feet, checking udders and generally making sure they are fit and healthy.

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