Things have certainly become very busy on the farm since my last instalment. Here at North Paddock potato planting is well under way. The harsh winter has produced a good friable tilth and seedbeds are excellent.
We farm potato hills in the autumn using a Dammer-Diker. This is a great bit of kit. Sub-soiling legs travel down the centre of each hill, followed by bulking bodies forming the hills. A novel wheel then digs small divots in between each hill. In winter these help trap snowfall and increase moisture accumulation; during the season they assist with drainage and prevent irrigation run-off.
In spring we simply travel over the hills once with a packer to firm them up and break any remaining clods, and then they are ready for planting. A warm period of weather with temperatures as high as 26ºC has seen tubers going into lovely warm seed-beds.
The output and accuracy of our 6-row Spudnik planter is good; planting 60 acres a day (half a Pivot circle) and achieving 92% efficiency.
Good progress was being made until very suddenly the clouds appeared, snowfall started and all fieldwork subsequently ground to a halt. I write this column after a week of temperatures hovering around zero with regular snowfall. At least it will provide good moisture for emerging potatoes and good conditions for seeding grain and canola. I shall be patient and return to the hobby which occupies farmers all over the world - checking weather forecasts.