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Gaddesden Estate News September 2022

Never before have we completed Harvest before the deadline for the Parish Newsletter! We finally finished combining Spring Wheat on 15th August, though not as early as 1976 when we finished on 7th August. We used to grow Winter Barley and Oilseed Rape, which often came in July, but the wheat harvest does not usually start until mid-August.

Thanks to the long dry spell the crops came in dry and thank goodness we have not had the expense of drying them.
When we have wet summers harvesting can be very dusty, due to the mould spores which grow on the cereals in damp conditions. The combine and the tractors get very dusty and the combine travels in a great grey cloud. We must spare a thought for combine drivers in the past who had to work without an air conditioned cab, protected by little more than a cloth around their faces! Those who watched the 1977 BBC film of “Harvest at Great Gaddesden” may remember this.

In July the Oats came first, followed by the Linseed, which in a normal year is the last to be ready in September. After a short break it was into the Spring Barley at Hawbush Farm. The wheat at Whitehouse and Upperwood came next, followed by the Marsh Farm fields above Gade Valley, and then the remaining Spring Barley, finishing up with a field of Spring Wheat on our South East march.
Yields were reasonable in most cases and the samples good. First feed Wheat made 9tha, Malting Barley 6.5t in the good bits and 5t/ha overall, Oats c6t/ha And Linseed £1.75t/ha.   

As every year, we are immediately into autumn work; though the ground now is too dry for many cultivations, and we must wait for some rain.  That said, we have had to cultivate our organic ground to kill the grass and clover before planting wheat in the autumn, as of course this cannot be sprayed off.  This has been rather a time consuming (and bumpy!) process as the ground has been very hard, but hopefully we have had reasonable success.  On the oat stubbles, which were combined early, we have broken up the ground with a heavy cultivator called a “Shakerator”, which was the only implement which would tackle the concrete-like conditions. At the time of writing, we are mucking out the cattle building at Hawbush, ready to spread on the land, which is one of the benefits of having livestock on the farm.
The ”Speckled Park” cattle are currently grazing with the sheep in Gaddesden Park, where they make a pleasantly bucolic sight.

Following the felling of diseased ash trees in New Gorse, and the clearance of the site for replanting, fencing contractors have been putting up a sturdy fence to deter deer from entering the plantation and damaging the young trees which will be going into the ground this coming winter. It is important to protect the saplings and give then the best possible start in life.

Our new Woodland Management Plan has been approved by the Forestry Commission so we are planning the next few years’ work, concentrating first, as before, on removing ash trees.

Estate maintenance
This is the time of year when we need to complete exterior decorations before the winter. We have several properties to re-paint at the Home Farm
Park and Ride
We were sad to have to cancel the August “Park and Ride”. The ground was much too hard both for horses and there would be an increased risk of injury to riders. The heat wave would have made life intolerable for the stewards who have to stand out all day supervising the road crossings. We still intend to hold the September charity event in aid of the Gaddesden Place Group Riding for the Disabled Association to which those who missed out in August have been invited to apply.