The farming column with Sam Walton

On the left are examples of wheat stalks protected by spray and the on the left two that have been missed.
On the left are examples of wheat stalks protected by spray and the on the left two that have been missed.

Farming is becoming more and more of a minefield. I am not clever enough to understand the ups and downs of the world markets and can never understand why a drought in say Australia or South America should make a pound or two difference upwards to our market place here.

Similarly if they have a glut, why should that also affect us? I am not aware that we import wheat, as an example, from Oz.

The Oz farmers probably produce less than half as much per acre than we do and as it is a vast country, it is sure to be a long haul either by road or train to a port which certainly costs money, plus fairly long voyage with loading and unloading costs.

What I am really trying to say is how do UK farmers know when to take a price?

If you take one, then price usually rises afterwards and if you don’t take one, then you will probably wish that you had done. I am told that it is traders who fix the price, so they sit in an office, look at screens all day, actually produce nothing tangible and make all the brass.

Why do I then think I must be in the wrong job?

I know seasons are changing and we are probably getting warmer year on year, maybe not much but enough to make a difference.

When we had hard winters, that had a huge effect on bugs and soil in general which probably meant we had less disease also. I know my spray bill seems to increase each year but last week my crop adviser brought me two samples of wheat stalks to show me the advantages thereof and why we need to use them. One lot was from the middle of a field which had been sprayed and the other lot was from a corner which had been missed.

The difference was like chalk and cheese. So no doubt my spray bill will keep on rising but it must be a lesson to us that these things need to be done to feed the nation.