Onions, Sugar Beet, and Champion Wheat

The field towards the left is growing onions: red and brown, pickling onions, round and banana shallots.

To give an earlier harvest, some are sown as sets (small bulbs), rather than waiting for seeds to germinate. Some are sown September-October so that they are growing over winter to be harvested the following July. The majority of the onions are sown in February to March for harvest later in August and September.

The onions grown in these fields are sold in most supermarkets all across the country, as well as supplying wholesale markets and local farm shops. You can now buy onions, and other produce such as bird food, from the Parrish’s online shop.

The farm are continuing their sugar beet trial, grown on contract for British sugar and delivered to the factory at Bury St Edmunds. Planting usually takes place around the end of March, once soil temperatures start to rise.

The harvesting of sugar beet is unusual, and very different to crops such as wheat. Cereal crops ripen and then reach a point where they stop growing (senescence). However, sugar beet continues to grow, increasing its sugar content the longer it remains in the ground. Unlike wheat, there is no set harvest date, so the farm will be looking to harvest at some point late in 2024.

Champion wheat is a versatile and hardy variety, often with high yields. This fields will be drilled (seeded) between the end of September and mid-October, with the wheat crop ready to harvest by July-August.

By the side of the Beeston fields interpretation board, you can see a large lump of sandstone. This iron-rich sandstone forms the Greensand Ridge, and has historically been an important building material across the area, with extensive use in churches and walls across Greensand Country. To find out more about the sandstone geology of the area, click here.