Harvest is here again and the culmination of a year’s hard work has arrived as farmers look anxiously at where prices might go while they assess their early yield results.

Winter-sown barley and oilseed rape are the first crops to be harvested and have been very disappointing so far.

The poor barley results are difficult to understand but appear to be due to thin grains, which can occur if there has been a lot of fungal disease following the very wet June weather.

Many farmers are questioning the viability of growing oilseed rape again.

Average yields are very low this year and it is almost certainly due to the massive numbers of insect pests which were present in the crop.

On our own farm we noticed in the spring that every plant contained at least one cabbage stem flea beetle larva, with occasional plants having 30 or more!

These larvae caused the stems to swell and the plant to react by throwing out new branches. Unfortunately a lot of these branches produced very little seed, hence the low yield.

While experts argue over the rights and wrongs of the present ban on nenicotinoid seed dressing, the most effective control measure available, farmers are left with the only other option which is to regularly spray with cypermethrin.

That has obviously not worked very well and the fear is that farmers may reduce their acreage of the crop, which will be a great pity for the industry and disappointing for beekeepers who rely on oilseed rape for early season pollinating.

Commodity prices have been low for a couple of years but the fall in currency values has pushed up wheat and rape prices by around 10%.

It will also mean a small increase in farm subsidies as they are based in Euros.

However, imported products, such as fertiliser, will be more expensive.

The Brexit result was hailed by some farmers and mourned by others, reflecting the feelings throughout society. It is surely time for us all to start being optimistic, seeing this result as a great opportunity for agriculture, for those who understand the intricacies of British farming to make the rules, and for us to move away from paying social security payments to farm businesses.

In my view any subsidies paid to farmers should either be for environmental benefit or to help build more efficient businesses.

I yearn to get back to the time when Government research stations were supported and free advice was given following their trial results.

Farmers who properly budgeted their business plan for the next five or ten years could get aid discounts on machinery or buildings and other payments were only made if commodity prices fell below the cost of production.

Lump sum annual payments hold up land prices, tend to support the inefficient and are misunderstood by the public.

The utterances of a former Colchester MP who said that those farmers who voted to leave were “ungrateful” were extraordinary.

The money we have been receiving back from Europe was our money, not theirs, and the fact that we will not be sending as much there in the first place must be better for all of us whether we are in farming or not.

Finally, let us hope for good harvest weather and safety on the


May I appeal to drivers, and the many cyclists now using country roads, to be cautious regarding tractors and trailers who also have to rely on these lanes to carry produce from field to store.

We all need to take care and be aware of each other’s presence.