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Ashlyns Summer Newsletter 2022

Harvest update

We started combining the Winter Barley on the 16th July. We completed harvesting on the 15th August which is one of the earliest on record for us. The weather has been kind to us throughout harvest but at one point we did stop all operations due to the incredible heat which posed a huge risk of fire. We have experienced two incidents of field fires this year but thankfully everyone is safe.

Our John Deere combine harvester. The list price of this machine is £500,000 and it is only used for about 6 weeks of the year.

Generally, the crops yielded very well, and we struggled to find enough space in the grain barns to store it over winter which means we have had to sell some of it now.

Due to the extremely dry conditions, we couldn’t cultivate the fields but thankfully we got some rain just in time and were able to plant our Oilseed Rape.

As usual this was a very busy and stressful time of year for farmers. They have spent the last year nurturing and tending to their crops hoping for good weather to be able harvest them safely. I know it can be frustrating if you are following a tractor but please be patient and careful especially if you are on a bicycle

Crops for 2023 harvest

At the end of September, we will start to sow the crops for next years harvest. If everything goes to plan and the weather is on our side, we will be growing Winter Wheat, Winter & Spring Barley, Field Beans and Oil Seed Rape.

Winter wheat is our main crop grown on the farm. If the quality is good enough it can be used as milling wheat which is ground down for flour and is used for many things, from bread to biscuits. It’s especially popular in the UK where we produce high quality milling wheat. If it doesn't meet the milling standards it is used for animal feed or as seed for next year’s crop

Cultivating the stubble to form a seedbed and drilling next year’s crops

Barley is mainly grown for animal feed, but certain varieties can make the grade for Malting Barley which is used for brewing beer.

Field Beans are predominately grown as a protein source in animal feed. The yield is normally quite low, but the crop doesn't need many inputs and it does return nitrogen to the soil; it is called a ‘break crop’ within a crop rotation.

Oil Seed Rape (aka Canola) is easily recognisable in spring with its bright yellow flowers. The seeds are pressed to extract the oil which is used as a vegetable in cooking.

Why is food so expensive

There are many contributing factors to the recent increase in the cost of producing our food. The conflict in Ukraine has restricted the movement of grain (30% of global production) which has impacted the supply chain. The cost of fertiliser, used to feed the crops, has trebled due to the lack of production. Fuel costs have risen massively, and our combine harvester uses about £1,000 of fuel a day during harvest as well as all the tractors throughout the year.

The main thing that can affect the yields of our crops is the weather. We have experienced a very dry summer and we are now hoping that the weather will be kind to us for the next 6 weeks so that we can plant 2023’s crops. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!

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