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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Cumbrian farmers bring in harvest - six months late

Farmers have been bringing in the harvest this week – six months later than planned.

Hay bales photo
Straw bale making near Wigton

The dry frosty spell has seen a harvest flurry in the county’s fields, usually carried out in late summer.

The farming calendar has been turned upside down because of thedevastating effect last year’s atrocious weather had on crops.

“Baling straw in February is totally unheard of,” said agricultural contractor Gary Stamper, from Wigton.

“Nobody wants to admit they failed to bring in their crops but the fields were just too wet to take the weight of a tractor and baler.”

Gary, who has been in business for 10 years, has salvaged 70 bales of straw from the 13-acre field, which will now be used purely for livestock bedding.

“Normally good quality straw can be used for feeding but this has lain in the fields for too long,” he added.

“It is a godsend forfarmers because they’re in desperate need of bedding as they have been unable to let their cows out into the wet fields.”

The crop was sown last spring at Hunters Farm, Stoneraise Place, Westward, Wigton.

“Straw had still been too wet to cut over the autumn and winter and farmers had all but given up,” said Gary.

Throughout the country farmers are being urged to bale all available straw including rape straw, to assist livestock producers who are facing a serious shortage of bedding.

National Pig Association producer group chairman Howard Revell said: “There is going to be significant straw deficit and we need all arable farmers to go the extra mile to help keep their pig farmer customers in business.”

Pig-keepers and livestock farmers are already paying record prices for straw and are worried there simply won’t be enough to go round. England’s pig farmers rely heavily on straw. They use over 350,000 tonnes a year.

Mr Revell added: “Many arable farmers would not normally think about baling their rape straw but this year they will almost certainly find it worth doing.”

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