Better times for the Rare Breed farmers

Scott Lilburn and his brothers are washing and packing potatoes,
Scott Lilburn and his brothers are washing and packing potatoes,
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It’s now April and the Rare Breed farmers have been making hay while the sun shines taking advantage of the dry weather and better working conditions.

The next episode, which airs on Tuesday, February 7 at 7.30pm on UTV, ctahces up with the farmers as they enjoy some better weather.

Michael and Norman Robson, Ballyclare

Michael and Norman Robson, Ballyclare

Vegetable farmer James McKee is certainly making the most of a dry spell, his farm near Comber, in Co. Down is harvesting around 80 to 90 tonnes of carrots per week and 25 tonnes of parsnips.

James explains: “Due to the wet weather we’re a good two weeks behind. But we’ll make it up, because when it’s dry I find it very very enjoyable.”

“They always say a farmer has a very short memory, once it comes into a new season everything else bad is forgotten about.”

Scott Lilburn farms potatoes on 200 acres in Craigavon, Co Armagh. It’s the beginning of sowing season, Scott and his team are planting his main crop - Maris Pipers, while leaving a good soil bed to secure a successful harvest for the year.

James McKee, Comber

James McKee, Comber

Scott says: “At the factory orders keep coming in. Any other year we wouldn’t be as busy as this, it’s because the price of spuds went up in England, making our product here more desirable to the retail industry.”

Over ten years ago retired Biologist, Barbara Erwin from Hillsborough Co. Down turned her hobby of growing foliage and flowers into a business. She grows 20 types of foliage and 36 varieties of flowers on her four and a half acres of land and sells directly to florists and the public.

She sexplains: “There are about 40 growers in Northern Ireland, some are on the big scale but I am what’s known as an ‘Artisan Grower’. In fact, only 10% of flowers sold here are grown in Northern Ireland, the other 90% are imported.”

In Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, Michael Robson is using an ultrasound scanner to scan his 12 Simmental bulls assess their fat and muscle statistics. Scanning is important to breeders like Michael, it shows each bull’s fat and muscle statistics including how they are developing and builds a performance record ahead of their sale in October.

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, which is sponsored by Dale Farm, Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Tuesday (7th February) 2017 at 7.30pm on UTV.