For many farmers, ’23 will be remembered as one of the most disappointing harvests to date, some will remember it as the year they surpassed all their targets and others just might not remember much of it at all. When all is said and done, the crops are safe and dry and the combine is blown down and packed away for next year, we can all agree that harvest ’23 had its moments.
Largely wet and unpredictable, this year was certainly a challenge for most. Despite some farms’ limited drying facilities crops were coming off the ground with higher than ideal moisture levels to avoid grain from sprouting or getting thrashed by the weather. Some days forecast to be dry and clear would see the heavens open just as we headed to the fields, only to then brighten up just when we’d admitted defeat.
Some farmers however would have thought nothing of this year’s trials. As a neighbour likes to remind me, “it’s never been worse than the harvest of…”. He always has a story to top mine and nothing comes as a surprise. One clear positive is the August sown OSR and cover crops look amazing after the wet weeks that followed its drilling. Buckwheat is standing particularly tall and proud as it scavenges phosphorus, ready for the next crop to take its place.
My ’23 moment was sitting in the cab, invisible to the local wildlife as goldfinches and yellowhammers flittered around the hedgerows beside me, their bright faces shimmering in the intermittent sun. I was also seemingly unseen by the juvenile pheasants and families of partridges as they meandered around the butterfly covered AB9 mixes, of which the sunflower heads were beginning to turn to the ground.
As I write this now in a thick jumper, the wind blowing laps around the office window, it is hard to imagine the blazing heat we were in just a few weeks ago. This harvest may not have been the best to date, but just as with every year, it was unique and packed with some very special moments, even if you do have to search harder to find them. So, set aside yields, expectations and failures and take some time to reflect on the moments, the small wins and the invaluable memories made with friends and family in your own remarkable little part of the world.