Farm news: harvest, cultivation and drilling

by Sam Fairs, September 15, 2015

Summer 2015 was a successful harvest for us at Hill Farm, we started early and were lucky with the dry weather in the east early on.

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Wheat harvest

The wheat harvest was exceptional – we got going early with good yields of about 9.5 tonnes per hectare and a nice dry crop – it’s important to us that the moisture content is low as it means we have to do less drying and the quality of the crop lasts longer.

The European picture for the wheat harvest was fantastic with the French reporting great yields – this keeps prices low for us in the UK but at least we had good yields. Better to have lots of good quality wheat to sell at low prices than a poor crop and poor prices.

Rapeseed harvest

Our rapeseed harvest was also great with yields of about 4 tonnes per hectare. Tests on the quality have been really positive. This was the first year we did not use neonicotinoid seed treatments on our rapeseed crop and we’re pleased to say we didn’t see any impact on the quality or yield of the harvest and we have vouched not to use them again in the future. You can read more about our views on neonicitinoids here > 

Borage harvest

We’re now busy combining our borage crop. Many people spot the striking blue flowers in the fields in late spring but don’t recognise the crop. We harvest the seeds which go off to be cold-pressed for star oil where borage is an alternative to evening primrose oil for dietary supplements, baby foods, veterinary and personal care products. 

Hill Farm is sited on heavy clay so it’s important that we get the borage harvested before it gets too wet and muddy to clog all our machines up.  With luck we’ll have it all in by the middle of September.

Cultivation and drilling

We’re rather chuffed with ourselves this year to have started drilling and cultivating on 12 August before we’d even finished harvesting – by 1 September we’d already done 1000 acres – quite an achievement! The warm and wet weather of late August, early September means the plants are already coming through and look in great health.

This year we’re drilling an extra 200 acres of of rapeseed so we’ll farm a total of 1000 acres of rapeseed altogether! Then we’re on to drilling our winter barley from  24 to 30 September and winter wheat from 1 to 15 October.

There’s no rest for us farmers!

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