By Peter Lundgren, The Farmer
It’s the time of year when I’m supposed to be making tentative plans for looking after the growing crops from now until harvest.
Trouble is when you are dealing with nature the best laid plans are often overtaken by events. And this year feels like one of those years when everything and anything could happen – and probably will.
The temperature is well above normal for this time of year – the average December temperature was 4 degrees C above normal – and what effect that will have on the growing wheat plants is going to be interesting.
Normally the winter sown crops stop growing during the winter – above ground at least – but with this mild weather they seem to have kept on growing. Will that bring forward the harvest date? I don’t know. If we are lucky a longer growing season will help the crop deliver a bigger yield but I’m not brave enough to bet on that.
And the mild weather will have allowed crop pests and diseases to survive in greater quantities than normal threatening the health of the field of wheat. Hopefully the mild weather will have also helped beneficial insects survive in greater quantities to deal with the threat.
Snow drops are out already. Daffodils are also in flower, which is more surprising because they don’t normally appear until Mother’s Day. This week I’ve noticed leaves emerging on some hedge plants; clouds of mosquitos and midges in mating balls; bees, flies and ladybirds around the farmyard; even the fish seem very lively in the pond (but that might be just the attentions of a kingfisher making sporadic feeding visits). In a normal year (if there is such a thing any more) I wouldn’t expect to see any of this for another month.
If the weather stays this warm we are going to have an interesting and challenging time trying to look after the growing field of wheat and protect it from pests and diseases between now and harvest.
We are living in interesting times.