The serious lack of hard weather is reflected in the soil conditions. Market gardener Andrew McTurk who farms in Brentwood in Essex says the soil is not in particularly good order this year. A hard frost is extremely beneficial as it gives the top tilth where the surface is lovely and nice. As he explained to Ken Crowther it doesn’t need many frosts but there hasn’t been enough this year to make a good job.
Frosts might not be to everyone’s liking but for farmer’s cold weather is natures friend as it helps kills bugs, stops slugs and helps breaks the soil down. Andrew McTurk is a market gardener who farmers in Brentwood in Essex he told Ken Crowther the cold weather does a lot more good than harm.
What the weather is doing is very important to arable farmers. Over the last few years there has been a noticeable change in weather patterns. In the south of the UK, the fields are wet as you would expect in the winter however, it is much warmer. Ken Crowther asked Essex farmer Hugh Pegrum how this affected the crops.
Arable farmer Hugh Pegrum’s family have farmed the land in Epping since 1880. All the crops are combinable, so no root crops like potato or sugar beet. All the autumn cultivations have been done, and the wheat for the 2016 harvest has just been planted as Hugh told Ken Crowther.
A familiar sight across the Essex countryside is the fields of blue borage. With the drop in price of oil seed rape, borage is a good choice as a break crop for farmers who harvest it for its seed. The seeds are crushed and the oil extracted and used in pharmaceuticals, baby foods and cosmetics as farmer Hugh Pegrum told Ken Crowther.