Harvest 2022 At home and away

Firstly a day to be thankful for a successful harvest season here at the farm. Although for us that was done and dusted a couple of months back when we finished our silage as we ourselves don’t grow any arable crops.

More importantly a day to reflect and be grateful for the relentless work of farmers across the UK to produce not only safe but nutritious and delicious food for our tables.

Last year the UK produced;

14 million tons of wheat

6.9 million tons of barley

981 thousand tons of oil seed rape

7.4 million tons of sugar beet

Crops this year were slow to get going with the dry weather but the heat had its benefits when it came to harvesting as grain didn’t need ‘drying’ before it could be stored. Each grain variety must have a specific internal moisture content to avoid spoilage during storage. From what we have seen and talking to other farmers its looking like the yields this year were pretty good despite the dry weather.

However the cost of harvest this year was colossal with the extreme price rise in diesel and frankly the difficulty at times of getting hold of it. At one point we were waiting for 10 days for a diesel delivery to arrive. Labour has been a challenge for many farmers as whilst tractors are fantastic bits of kit they still need a human to drive them! And while we are on the subject of tractors the cost involved in acquiring harvest machinery nowadays is simply eye watering. Did you know to buy a new combine harvester you wouldn’t get much change out of £250,000!!

Things in Europe are looking even more challenging with farmers across the continent battling with extreme drought. Something we saw ourselves when we visited Germany in the summer. Particularly noticeable in the sunflower crops which had utterly failed, the plants were no more than a couple of feet high with wilted heads and brown leaves.

Another challenge to the European harvest is the war in Ukraine, often referred to as ‘The Bread Basket of Europe’. Its rich fertile soil and deep sea ports have made it a one of the highest producers of wheat, corn and sunflower in the world. Ukraine account for around one third of global sunflower oil trade and 8% of global wheat export. The loss in production will no doubt have a knock on effect around the globe. Some countries are particularly reliant on Ukraine for crucial food supplies. In Libya, for example, 44 per cent of the wheat supply used domestically came from Ukraine in 2018. In 2019 43 per cent of the corn used in the UK was produced in Ukraine.

There is no doubt that the challenging harvest across Europe, the war in Ukraine and the huge upturn in production costs we are seeing a rise in our domestic food prices. Whilst our beef are 100% grass fed our turkeys eat a grain based ration. We have seen a 55% price increase in our turkey food so far this year.

On a lighter note we had a scarecrow competition in church last night which the mini farmer’s throughly enjoyed. Our farmer scarecrow ‘Billy’ looked like he had eaten a few to many Cornish pasties as he had quite the figure. It wouldn’t be harvest festival without blasting out everyones favourite harvest hymn ‘We plough the fields and scatter’. The evening was rounded off with a delicious harvest supper where of course a Treway Turkey was on the menu!