Getting ready for harvest

by Sam Fairs, July 10, 2015

What a great time of year this is – there is a buzz of anticipation about the farm as we all prepare for the harvest and wait to find out how our year of hard work tending our crops has turned out.

Over the last month everyone has been given a holiday to ensure they are fresh and ready to go.   As soon as the combine starts there is no stopping until the crops are gathered in and the next crops are in the ground – usually early November.

Preparing for harvest

Our harvest students are now with us and we have a full team.   Over the last week or so we have all been busy servicing the machinery – tractors, trailers, combines, cultivators, ploughs, drills, so that they are ready when needed.    The grain stores have all been cleaned and the air ducts under the floors are all cleared.   The grass cutting is almost up to date and we are now on the last job going round the fields with the chainsaw clearing any trees or branches that have fallen into the crops so that the combine has a clear run.

While we are waiting we are helping at Heveningham Hall with the post show clear up.   All the barriers need collecting up and taking to the next show in Framlingham.

Yesterday we had one combine out starting on the barley.   The moisture was down to 16.5%.   The yields don’t look to be too bad.   This crop will go for animal feed and the straw will be baled and collected to be used as bedding for pigs on a local farm – they love the softer barley straw.   Some also goes off for cattle feed.

If the dry weather holds the combine will start on the dried marrowfat peas by the middle of next week – these are early this year and will either go off for canning or export to the Middle East where they are a valuable source of protein used mostly in falafels.

By the end of next week the rapeseed will be ready, all of which is used to produce our wonderful Hillfarm Oil.

Planning for next year

Whilst overseeing all of the above I still have to find time for confirming the cropping for the next year and ordering the seed and fertilisers.   The final choice of varieties is made at harvest, once I know the yields and how the crop has behaved towards disease resistance, and also depends on what the market wants.  Here in Suffolk we are near the coast and ports, so we tend to grow for the export market.


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