Wheat Harvest at Fullers Hill Cottages

Wheat harvest at Cambridge Holiday Cottages Farm Little GransdenWhere did the wheat go?

The Cambridge Holiday Cottages in the heart of the working farm at Fuller’s Hill Farm. The farm covers some 450ha of beautiful rolling countryside in SW Cambridgshire.

The wheat harvest of 2012 will sadly go down in farming folk law as one of the worst in living memory.  The crop was one of the poorest yielding and worst quality that any living farmer can remember. At Fullers Hill Farm we did not produce a single ton of wheat that meet the basic quality standards for any use, not even for chicken feed.

The most dis-appointing part of this was that in early June the wheat crop looked the absolute best ever seen. The fields were packed full of heads, the pollination was excellent and every part of the ear (the spikelets) were fertile.  The slippery slide an the unrealised potential was undoubtedly due to the incessant summer rain. This produced huge blooms of near uncontrollable crop disease. The crop stood in water logged fields that killed the plant roots and cut the developing grain from its food source. The lack of sunshine limited photosynthesis and prevented the grain from filling.

The crop then died prematurely. The heads of wheat died but the straw stayed green and full of sap. The combine harvester ground it’s way through the crop, belching out smoke and struggling to work with its normal efficiency.

So why do this happen, why do the summer completely fail to come? We have heard various reasons. The dip or buckle in the jet stream was roundly blamed. By no one has yet decided why the jet stream decided to do this and has stubborn yet to return to its normal route. Then we hear about the unprecedented melting of the northern polar ice cap. But we are yet to find out the way in which this would affect our weather.

The wheat harvest of 2012 is best forgotten. The reasons for its failure are many and complex. The season has stood to remind us that we know little about Mother Nature and what drives her.

John Jefferies

11/11/12

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