Jimper’s Jottings

At last a real summer, nature always has a habit of catching up. This year was no exception, a month late getting started then wallop! Sun and heat. The combines started to roar by the middle of August and clouds of dust followed in their wake. The quality of the corn is good and yields are average which is surprising after all the wind and rain the crops had to put up with.

The lateness of the season has had little effect on most crops. Victoria plums were not ready to eat until September which is late for them. The fruit trees are loaded but through the dry period they have somehow found enough water to swell the crop. All fruit seems to have done well this year. Even the nut trees are well loaded. Walnuts in particular are prolific and even the Elderberry branches are hanging down under the weight of their crop.

We have a Rowan tree in our garden and I have never seen so many clusters of red berries. Blackberries are plentiful as is all soft fruit this year, the birds will have a field day as they ripen. Grapes have also done well and my daughter will be able to make many bottles of wine.

As I mentioned earlier, the corn harvest has been good despite the hard, late spring. Winter wheat came off at about 12% to 15% moisture at five tons to the acre. Most crops were standing with little bad corn anywhere. Unlike the crops of the 1970’s, when the straw was weaker the modern yield has almost doubled with the straw being much stiffer and not prone to snapping off or falling over. It rained all day on Saturday 24 August and boy, did we need it. Sunday raft race day in Rye dawned to a clear sky and sunshine. As usual, Rye was packed out down by the river, with all stalls doing a fair trade on the salts and over £9000 was raised on the day by the Lions for good causes.

The harvest was finished in fine style with many farmers taking the odd wet day off to employ the tractors and men in getting next year’s corn planted. Nowadays little is ploughed nine or ten inches deep. Instead all they do is pass over the ground with a set of tools consisting of a set of discs, tined harrow and a roller. Following that a tractor follows with the seed drill, another rolling with a ring roll and then pray for rain. This rush to plant next year’s crop worried me. Having seen the ground this year’s crop came off, dried out like concrete with large, deep cracks. This is nothing other than a substance to hold the crop in place against the wind. Little if any nutrients live in soil like this. All the food for the plants to grow comes via a plastic bag. Humus is a thing of the past, yet it is the very life of all good earth. One day the farmer will have to find manure to incorporate into the land. Where all this is coming from I have no idea for very few corn growers have any cattle or sheep.

“Rye’s Own” March 2015

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