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Summer grazing

Most farm animals live out in the fields through the summer. You will see sheep, cattle and pigs, and sometimes goats and flocks of chickens in the fields around Cornwall.

These days you may even see some llamas and alpacas which are kept for their wool.

Fox enjoys the sunshine


Vegetable farmers

Cornwall's mild climate means that Cornish vegetable farmers enjoy a longer growing season than the rest of the country. The range of vegetables they grow each year increases as more shoppers look to buy local produce and more restaurants look for local produce to serve to their customers.

What do they grow?
Cauliflower, potatoes and cabbage are grown all the year round in Cornwall. Many hectares of land are planted with these crops to supply the big supermarkets as well as to sell locally.

During the summer months we can look forward to other locally grown vegetables such as asparagus, new potatoes, courgettes, lettuce, runner beans, broccoli and tomatoes. These are grown in smaller quantities and you are more likely to find them on sale at farmers' markets or in farmshops.

On the Isles of Scilly farmers are looking to grow more vegetables and salad crops, like lettuce, as an alternative to the flowers they have traditionally grown.

Cereal harvest

For Cornish farmers the cereal harvest starts in mid July. Wheat and barley are the most commonly grown cereal crops in Cornwall.

The Cornish weather is not ideal for growing the best quality wheat which is needed to make bread flour. Most of the wheat grown in Cornwall is used for animal feed. A small amount of wheat for bread flour is grown and ground in the county for use by local bakers.

Most of the barley grown in Cornwall is also used for animal feed but some of it is used to brew local beer.

Wheat is sown in the autumn or early spring. When the shoots first appear it looks just like a field of grass. As it grows it produces side shoots which double or treble the size of each plant. Each shoot produces a stem which grows to a height of about 60cm. At the top of each stem a seed head emerges that is called an 'ear'. The ear contains about 40 grains or seeds which will yield flour when ripe.
Through the spring and summer the crop changes colour as it ripens, from green to yellow, and then to golden yellow. When the crop is fully ripe it is time to bring in the combine harvester. The combine cuts down the crop and separates the grain from rest of the plant. The grain is collected and the straw, the stem of the plant, passes through the machine and is dropped on the ground behind it.
The grain is off loaded into a trailer which is driven alongside the combine while it continues to cut through the crop. When one trailer is full, another one takes its place.
Bringing the trailer alongside the combine requires concentration. The loaded trailers are driven back to the farmyard where the grain is tipped in to the store.
A good spell of sunny weather is needed for harvesting so that the grain is dry enough to store into the winter. If it is too wet, it will start to heat up and sprout in the store and it will be of no use. Sometimes there is just not enough sunshine and farmers must get on and harvest their crops as best they can. Then the farmer will use a grain drier which blows warm air through it, a bit like a hair drier.
Back in the field, the combine has finished its job. It has left the straw in tidy rows across the field and the round baler has arrived to start work while the weather is still dry. As the baler is driven up each row, it picks up the straw, rolls it up tightly and ties off each bale with string or net. Once it is baled the straw can be safely left on the field for a time as the tightly packed straw in the bales will stay dry even if it rains - like a cottage with a thatched roof.

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