The farm to fork journey: Deane Farm seed wheat and barley
As we head towards the harvest season, it is interesting to think about the farm to fork journey of Deane Farm produce as it makes its complex route to our dinner tables.
We have had a busy spring tending the autumn and spring planted crops to ensure they are in good condition as harvest draws nearer. Despite a dry January, rain later in the spring ensured crops grew well. However lack of moisture over recent weeks is concerning, especially for the May planted maize which could certainly use a drink. While the damper spring means soil moisture reserves are greater than last year, the drought of 2022 is very fresh in everyone’s minds.
The growing process
At Deane Farm, we try to add value to our cereal crops by producing wheat and barley for seed. This is a much more rigorous process than conventional production with extra weed control and paperwork hoops to jump through. The seed merchant sends out inspectors at multiple points to assess the crop quality and weed burden. With the grain hopefully going on to be grown on another farm, it is essential the crop is clean to avoid contamination. We have to be extra meticulous throughout the growing process to ensure it meets the necessary criteria, especially against the threat of wild oats and volunteers from previous crops.
What varieties are we growing at Deane Farm?
This year we are growing Dawsum wheat and LG Caravelle barley. Plant breeders are striving to achieve consistently high yields of good quality with effective disease resistance through genetic selection. LG Caravelle has performed exceptionally well when it comes to yield while Dawsum has maintained good yields across a wide sowing window, allowing greater flexibility in a cropping rotation. Both varieties demonstrate good disease resistance, especially for fungal diseases such as Septoria and brown rust. With market and weather pressures, these factors are increasingly important to farms both up and down the country.
So how does a seed crop arrive on our dinner plates?
So how many stages are involved before the Deane Farm seed wheat and barley ends up of your dinner plate? It is a longer and more complex chain than might be first assumed and all contributors are highly dependent on each other. This year’s crop will be harvested at Deane Farm between August and September 2023. It will then leave for processing and another farmer will hopefully plant it as a feed crop in September/October. This will then be harvested in August 2024 and fed to cattle, pigs and poultry to produce meat and eggs. Eventually this produce will be processed and packaged up to land on the shop shelves for sale at some point during 2025. It takes many farms, with everyone supplying the next person in the chain, to keep supermarket shelves stocked.
As June comes to a close, let’s hope for a favourable summer to help us crack on with the harvest so our cereals can go on to play their part in the farm to fork journey!