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Gaddesden Estate News October 2017

Charity Ride
The Charity Ride, mainly in aid of the Gaddesden Place Riding For The Disabled Group will have taken place on the last Sunday in September, as it has for the past few years. At the time of writing we are expecting 105 riders to complete the course of about 10 miles, mostly on the Estate, though this number is likely to increase.

Harvest 2017
I mentioned the Hagberg test for milling wheat in last month’s newsletter. Crops have to go through a number of tests in order to meet specification.
Another important test is “Bushel weight”, properly known as “Specific weight”, measured in kilograms per hectolitre. The young and sprightly will of course remember what a bushel is, other than something to not hide your light under! A UK bushel, still used as a measure of grain volume in America (see below), is a measure equal to eight Imperial Gallons. (A US Bushel is slightly smaller as it is worked back to a US pint of 16 UK Fluid Ounces, rather than the UK 20 Fl. Oz.)
Grain has been sold by weight, ton before the EU and tonne now, in the UK for all my working life.   Different grades of wheat will have different criteria that must be met, but generally speaking the higher the weight for a given volume, the Bushel Weight, the more valuable the crop.
The bushel, in which grain is traded on commodity markets and for production reports, is now a unit of weight. This is done by assigning a standard weight to each commodity that is to be measured in bushels. These bushels depend on the commodities being measured, and on the moisture content of the commodity.

Harvest 2018
All the 2017 Rape ground has been cultivated with three passes of tackle, except where we have run over the areas of black-grass with our new Cambridge rolls; these are fitted with “paddles” which can be used to break clods and uproot the black-grass seedlings. The Oat and fallow land at Whitehouse Farm and Upper Wood has received a similar treatment, without the rolling.  The Oilseed rape for harvest 2018 was planted in the middle of August.  Where it has established it looks to be flourishing, but in other areas it has had very high pressure from slugs, particularly at its earliest stages, and decisions on what to do with failed areas need to be taken imminently.  The pressure from Cabbage-stem Flea-beetle, which is can be another devastating pest particularly in Hertfordshire and East Anglia has been low this year, and we have not had to use any insecticides.
Some of the ground which will be used for a Spring crop next year which has been deep cultivated to aid drainage.  In the past there was much more of a need for this when every field was ploughed and compacted layers called pans developed below the ploughing.  It is an expensive process and is now done only in specific situations.   In Highbush/Farthings Field we have sown a “cover crop” of vetch, which will be destroyed in due course before another crop is grown. The remainder of the ground will have a pass with a light disc / press combination to assist with the breakdown of residues from this harvest.  Drilling the winter Wheat on the remainder of the farm will soon be upon us.
Before we can apply any more sprays we will be changing the wheels on the sprayer to wider wheels with low ground-pressure tyres. This avoids compacting the seed-bed.

Hedge cutting and fencing
Hedge cutting has begun, as the rules permit from the beginning of September. First of all we have been tackling the paddocks at Whitehouse Farm, where we are investing in some new high-tensile fencing, in the hope that we can avoid the regular damage to fences that horses seem to do! Hedge-cutting continues throughout the winter months.

Woodland work is on-hold at the moment, though we plan to do some planting in Big Wood later in the season, with Douglas Fire that we have grown from seed in the greenhouse.

Gaddesden Estate Ride
The Charity Ride sees the conclusion of the 2017 series of monthly “Park & Ride” events which we have held over the summer and we hope to continue next year.

We have welcomed several new occupants to residential properties, as well as new business tenants at the Home Farm and Whitehouse Business Centres. External redecoration continues, the estate office having just been completed.

We have had a busy period providing both film locations and Unit Bases over the past few months. This included being called out at week-ends and in the middle of the night to take a tractor to pull out several lorries which had become stuck!

Tough Mudders
We have reached an agreement with “Tough Mudder”  to hold an event over the week-end of 7th-8th July 2018. Estate residents and households local to the estate will receive a letter explaining about this event, which will inevitably cause an increase in traffic over that week-end and a certain amount of inconvenience to people in the area, though of course everybody is welcome to apply to take part!

Rights of Way Hearing
We were very pleased that following the hearing in public at the Village Hall on 4th July, the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State refused to endorse the Order upgrading the rights of way at Briden’s Camp.