Where do we even start, 2020? What a year it's been for us all. I think it's safe to say we're are hoping that 2021 brings a little more joy for one and all.
We wanted to write this blog post to sum up, our 2020 here at British Quinoa. Amidst all that has gone on with the pandemic and with Brexit looming, we've had a very positive year with growth, crops, trials and our harvest, even if we've had to adapt and work in new ways.
The pandemic, like with any business, has had an impact. We've seen some industries orders increase to meet the demand and others decrease due to closures, but overall, we've been pretty busy fore-filling orders, which is a great place to be in.
Going back to the start of the year, we had lots of rainfall throughout the UK during the Autumn of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. This had great implications on us getting our other crops (yes, we don't just grow quinoa) in the ground. It meant that when Spring arrived, we had a lot of drilling and planting to do with our wheat crop, leading to a much lower yield.
However, we did manage to get all the crops in the ground come early Spring, which was a great relief.
We were then hit with this pandemic. This changed how we worked as a team, the production process, orders changed. It was a lot to get used to it, but we did
One of the biggest challenges was getting our crops planted in the Spring once the UK was in lockdown. Sourcing labour became quite tricky due to social distancing measures. It also meant Stephen was late getting out visiting our crops across the county and the trials.
We also saw a spike in orders for the food distribution industry. People were buying food like never before, which meant products were in high demand.
Planting in 2020
Then came the planting of our crops during April and May. This year we had over 30 plus growers throughout the UK.
We had one of the driest April's on record, so it made planting a little more difficult this time around. We managed to get our crops in the ground in good time as there was still plenty of moisture in the seedbed for the germination process. All our quinoa was sown by the end of April throughout the UK with our growers.
Towards the end of April, we could see the weather turning much drier. Some of our crops which were planted in Eastern parts of the UK, struggled to germinate as the ground was a little too dry during the drilling phase. Thankfully, the rain came just in time, and we had some good, heavy showers!
This year was one of our biggest crops to be planted which was very exciting. We had many new growers on board across the UK to help us expand our production. We were also trialling a few new varieties of quinoa this year on a small scale. We tested a new white quinoa variety and a new black quinoa variety for the first time, both of which are looking very promising.
Our crops performed really well this year. From May, you could start to see the quinoa growing through the ground. We also had our first hoeing of the season to keep the weeds at bay.
June was a very dry month, and it was becoming obvious we were in the middle of a drought. All the crops across the UK were suffering from a lack of moisture. On our farm, we deiced to start irrigating our crops from water held in our reservoir. Our trials were also beginning to look good at this point. We found genetic diversity was abundant, which at this point was very encouraging.
July saw the first of our quinoa seeds appearing. This is always a relief. We were a little sceptical as we had such dry weather since planting, meaning they didn't have the best growing conditions. However, when we received the heavy rain at the end of June, it pushed the quinoa's growth forward and made it up for some lost time.
When August came, our quinoa was thriving and growing at a great rate. Near the end of August, the combines were out and ready to get to work. Our farm in Shropshire was the first to the harvesting process! The rain hampered us at first, but we were fortunate to get an extended dry period for all our growers to get their harvest done!
The start to this year's harvest was a rather wet one. There was a point where we had some concern about the crop's quality due to the weather. However, it all turned out fine as the weather picked up, and the rain held off.
The grains turned out to be of excellent quality, predominantly the whiter the seeds. We also got ten tones of British red quinoa, so overall we were delighted with this year's turnout.
The processing has begun. We have invested in some new equipment this year for the processing, which is rather exciting and should be ready to sell very soon!
We are looking forward to getting our 2021 crops in the ground come early Spring. We will be sure to keep you updated on the progress.
The British Quinoa Company Ltd