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Monday, February 13th, 2012

Notes from Hungary July 09

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Arable Update 17-7-2009


All the spring drilling/planting was completed in good time.  A total of 110 hectares of potatoes have been planted with the last field being planted by the end of April. Varieties cropped this year include Red Scarlett, Motzart and Desiree.  Maize and sunflower drilling was completed by the beginning of May, a total of 1350 hectares of maize and 400 hectares of sunflowers.


We have experienced a very dry spring, with only 40 mm of rain falling in the months of April and May.  This year irrigation on the potatoes has been very important especially with the high temperatures, all our machines have been working at full capacity.  The rain finally came in June with 110mm falling in the second half of the month.  Up until then the maize and sunflower crops were struggling in the dry conditions. They are now looking good with all but a few fields coming into flower.


Potato packing was completed by the end of May.  The line has now been serviced and stores cleaned ready fo this years crop.


In between the wet weather, 90 hectares of triticale and 40 hectares of winter wheat were whole cropped for the dairy unit.  The fields have now been drilled with mustard. 


Cereal harvest is now underway, harvesting started in the begining of July but we are now being held up by the wet weather, we have already had over 50mm of rain this month.  To date we have harvested 30 hectares of winter barley and 130 hectares of winter wheat, leaving 300 hectares of winter wheat and 20 hectares of spring barley to combine.  Harvesting should be completed by the end of the month as long as the weather holds out.  As expected the yields are not looking good due to the dry spring, both the barley and wheat yields are between 3.5 and 4 tonnes a hectare, we can only hope that prices increase .

Looking ahead the Red Scarlett will soon be ready for burning off, we plan to start harvest at the beginning of August. 

Notes from Serbia

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

  Harvest is complete, we finished harvesting our 470ha of winter wheat on the 17th of July.  We were slightly behind schedule due to machinery breakages; trough auger shearing, belt and bearing breaking on the straw chopper cost us about 3 days in total.  Yields were below average due to the hot spring with hardly any rain in April and May, however the end of June seen more than 100mm of rain.  Weather condition during harvest we very good being above 30 degrees throughout with the odd thunderstorm sweeping through, nothing like England at the moment though.  We are now cultivating all the stubble land using a Carrier and sub soiling it after that.  At the moment one of our cultivation tractors (Valtra) has a clutch problem, however Valtra service in Serbia are telling me they are too busy to fix the machine.  An email and phone calls to finland seemed to speed things up a bit though.  The next few months, until the sun flower harvest begins, will see some machinery repairs, the usual story, and some grain storage site apperance improvements such as sowing some grass and planting some conifers along the outside fence.  I will now be off to the Ukraine to help out Mark, hopefully my instructions left here to complete the cultivations and grass sowing will be followed up as this is always seems very difficult for the staff especially when no one is here to “watch” them.


Spring News from Ukraine

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Spring 2009


This springs challenge is how to fight the finance issues. Chemicals are available on a 20% down payment and 80% in August system but diesel and fertilizer are cash only. We are concentrating on minimizing costs and getting the farm to harvest with sensible inputs.


Grain futures in the Ukraine are trading well below London and most dealers are very cautious about committing to anything. The US dollar is now devaluing slightly against the Hryvnia but I think this is a temporary rest bight and much of our financel security is in the hands of the currency markets.


The new farm is taking shape with much work done on four of the 4000 ton flat stores. A weighbridge, office and tractor shed are also progressing. The real challenge is getting the dryer working by second week of July.


After a prolonged winter we finally started work on 1st April. Most of the farm was cultivated in early winter creating well frost acted seedbeds and easing our spring work load. We drilled 1000ha of spring wheat followed by 900ha spring rape and 300ha of mustard. It is now very dry and the later crops will need rain


The winter crops in the majority have survived well with only pockets of frost kill. Winter wheat is healthy and relatively clean this year with much of the couch removed. Even the winter barleys showing that it may not be a bad alternative to second wheat’s. Rye leaves a lot of trash and is slow to combine and Oats are a problem here due to high summer temperatures. Spring Barley is worthless if it does not grade for human uses.


The WOSR is looking healthy and is just starting to flower on the first drilled. The continued lack of rain has dried much of the phoma / leaf spot issues up and I hope to only use one fungicide pass mid flowering. Last year Alternaria was a big problem in most of our rape and we will be spraying for it this year along with Sclerotinia. Pollen Beetles are rife and will also need our attention.


The plan going forward is to complete all the footings for the dryer next month, keep the sprayers running and build some bridges to aide combine access round the farms.

News from Ryan in Hungary

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Spring is finally here allowing  field work to begin.  The winter seemed to drag on and on, with temperatures dropping below  -15 ºC.  The winter crops do not look to have been affected by the cold weather even though there was little snow coverage to protect them over the cold period.  All fertiliser has now been applied to the cereal crops and the first chemical application is well under way.


The new packing  store is now fully operational. There have been a few teething problems along the way but nothing serious.  The new packing store has simplifed the packing procedure and improved the working environment.  There are still some 2000 tonnes of potatoes in store to be packed, so the packing staff will be kept busy for the next few months. 


Over the winter months we finally finished moving all of the machinery and spare parts to the new site.  All that is left to do now is the landscaping around the site, work on this is under way  and should be completed shortly. 


The spring drilling is well under way, with the spring barley drilled first, the focus has now turned to potato planting.  To date we have planted 80 hectares, leaving 25 hectares to plant.  As soon as the potato planting is completed maize drilling will start, once this is finished we will move on to drilling the sunflowers.  In total, maize and sunflowers combined there are 1600 hectares to drill, this should keep us busy until the next update.

Arable News from Hungary

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Arable Update 18/12/2008


When I last updated the major priority was to finish the potato harvest.  I’m happy to inform you that the weather stayed favourable and harvesting and store filling were completed by the 25th October.  Currently the potatoes are still being packed at the old packing store.  The new line is now near complection with just finishing touches to be carried out, by tomorrow the first potaotes should be packed at the new store.


On the arable side of the farm all winter drilling has now been completed, a total of 600 ha has been drilled, consisting of, 475ha of w wheat, 25 ha of w barley and 100ha of triticale.  The maize harvest has been slow due to wet weather but yields have been good with the average yield looking to be around 8.5 tonnes/ha.  The harvest is not quite finished, their is 50 ha of combining left to do, as soon as the weather comes right this will finished off.  The remainder of the arable land has now all been cultivated in preperation for spring cropping.   

November Update

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

It’s a time for celebration because we have finally finished drilling. We have nearly 2000ha of rape of which most should yield depending on the early winter weather.
Its cold now but we do not have slugs or pigeons. Charlock is proving to be our big problem with limited spray options. Most rape has had a bit of fertilizer and all got grass weed control where needed.

Wheat and Barley amount to 1950ha with early drilled going ok. One of our farms is under water for half of it and that is why we are 350ha short of our drilling target. About half the cereals are emerged and most of the later drilling went into good seed beds at relatively high rates so let’s hope for a decent result with glyphosate used for all apart from last season’s spring rape which cleaned the ground very well.
We are currently trying to cultivate all the spring grounds in near perfect conditions at the moment which will help a lot for next spring. I am trying to remove the massive weed bank with stale seed beds but it takes time and money.

We are contracting 130k south of here near the Romanian border cutting maze at 35%, nice drying bill but the combines are going well.

We have lots of broken machinery and we are just starting to sort a long list of scheduled works for the winter. First job is to build a workshop heater and put some proper lights up (40w bulb in large shed?)

Some of the lesser talented staff will be going to the unemployment office with some government training for free once they are officially unemployed.

I have been getting quotes for grain storage and handling equipment which we hope to construct in the early spring depending on funding and weather. The concrete season is well over but at least we could start to clean the site. I hope planning will not cause to much of a problem……………………well nothing that cant be sorted in the traditonal Ukraine methods.

Crops are very hard to sell at the moment with all of Eastern Europe in a similar position. Next year storage or trains will be our salvation I hope

AGCO are still not playing the game so a court room date may well be looming but they do want to use our farm as a demonstration site !!

Im now off to negotiate with the local café to do a harvest super as a thank you for the staff, we are haggling at $3 per man so we will see.

Regards Mark

Introducing Ryan Stone

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I am originally from Kent having grown up on a farm that my father manages. I attended Writtle Agricultural College in Essex where I gained a National Diploma and a Degree, both in agriculture. I started my management career with a large salad and vegetable farming enterprise in North Kent, which gave me the chance to work in Morocco. I then went to work for an English farm management company in Ukraine, working as a production manager on a large arable farm. I joined the team here in Hungary in July of this year.

Arable Update

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

We are in the process of completing a new workshop and a 5,000 tonne potato store with packing and grading facilities. This store is now being filled with this seasons’ crop and over the next two weeks we hope to set up the packing and grading facilities.

Our major priority at the present time is the potato harvest. We have harvested 100 ha to date leaving 25 ha to harvest. If the weather stays favourable we should be finished in the next two weeks. Yields have been very good this season, which may lead to a shortage of storage, but hopefully fingers crossed we will have enough room in the new store and an old store which has a capacity of 900 tonnes.

The sunflower harvest is finished and we now have the maize to combine. The ex sunflower land is quickly being turned around and drilled with winter wheat, we have drilled 300 ha to date. We have 100 ha worth of triticale seed to drill before we return to drilling wheat.

Over the next two weeks the plan is to finish the potato harvest and winter cereal drilling and to plough the ground in preparation for the potatoes. Once all the field work has been completed we have the task of moving all of our machinery and equipment to our new workshop.