Kingsley Village
in the heart of Cheshire

Graham Warburton

Firstly, many apologies for there not being any Farm Update for some time. It has been a very busy summer, both on and off the farm.

We started harvesting our early potatoes on 6th May this year. This is as early as we have ever started, and surprising because we had such a cold wet spring. After last year’s disastrous potato harvest, when big yields and potato blight caused the price to crash early in the year (and never recovered), we needed a good start this year. The price at our farm shop remained stable for quite a while. The cold spring followed by a dry May delayed potato development. Big yields are no good in early potatoes, because everyone wants small sweet new potatoes.



The chipping potato harvest started at the beginning of July. These are varieties of potatoes specifically grown for chip shops. Chip shops want large oval potatoes with low water content – unlike the ‘early’ varieties. Demand was good from the start and with no potato blight this year, quality was excellent. It has been a pleasure to harvest them.

Trivia of the week: Potatoes are the only produce for which there is a statutory requirement that retailers identify the variety. Labels marked ‘Whites’ or ‘Reds’, although common, has been illegal for decades.

The cereal harvest started later this year. We started the winter barley at the end of July. Yields were good, but a strong pound and good harvests all around the world this year causing a surplus of grains has meant the price is really low. Even the war in Ukraine has not had an impact on prices. Ukraine is the main wheat producer for that area, and is Russia’s main exporting port for their wheat. Apparently there is a large “EL NINO” effect this year, so we will see if this has any effect.

Our wheat harvest started mid August with our Milling Wheat. This yielded well and was the best quality we have ever grown. It commanded a premium price over standard feed wheat, so we must be doing something right. The feed wheat harvest continued between the showers. Whoever said that “Britain has the best climate for growing crops and the worst for harvesting them” was correct. Yields again were good, but the price is poor. Wheat prices have dropped about 50% over the last five years.

During July we were approached by a land agent representing Tesla, who wanted us to agree to let them conduct a seismic survey across our Frodsham Farm. This involved driving across all our fields, through crops that were almost ready for harvest, to drill small holes every 30m and place an explosive charge down in the ground. When these were detonated, the resulting echo would bounce back off the rocks underneath to enable them to see what type of rocks were there and their general layout. This would tell them if the rocks would contain any shale gas that they might be able to extract. I immediately thought of “The Beverley Hill Billies”, the old TV show where the local farmers in America hit oil under their land and became millionaires overnight. My enthusiasm was soon dashed though, when I learned that any gas found under our fields belong to IGAS – the company that has been awarded the licence to conduct the survey. The only way the landowner could make any money from this would be if the drill head was situated on our land. This is highly unlikely. I despair at the amount of mis-information, nonsense and scaremongering that has been on Social Media about this.

At the end of September we were honoured to host the Cheshire Ploughing and Hedgecutting match at Frodsham, organised by The Cheshire Ploughing and Hedgecutting Society. This event is held every year somewhere in the County, and is like a small agricultural show. We were due to host it in 2012 but due to torrential rain for weeks beforehand, it had to be cancelled at the last minute. This year was totally different with glorious sunshine all week. There was 140 trade stands selling everything connected with farming and agriculture. There was over 100 tractor plough men, horse plough men/women, hedge layers and hedge cutters in dozens of classes spread over 100 acres, all competing to be best in their class. We had around 3500 people attending, and over 1000 competitors, stewards, stall holders etc. The National Vice President of the NFU Guy Smith was present, and a very successful day was had by all. Although we do not get paid for the event, the Society gave us £1000 to donate to a charity of our choice. Our nominated charity was the Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of my father Lionel who died of this debilitating condition in 1994.

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Like’ WARBURTONS FARMS ON FACEBOOK and see more photos of this event.

I would like to wish all my readers a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Please e-mail me on the following address with any comments: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Graham Warburton - Warburtons Farms 01928 788329


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