WHEAT – broadcast sowing began in the autumn, generally in the middle of October, and continued to December, sometimes to Christmas. Diddling, when practised, began at Michaelmas. ‘Diddling’ entailed putting three or four seeds in each hole, two inches deep.
‘One for the rook, one for the crab,
one to rot and one to grow.’
The average wheat yield was 9 coombs an acre. (Honing averaged 7 coombs, North Walsham 6 to 7 coombs an acre).
BARLEY – sowing took place from February to April. In Happisburgh and Walcott a yield of 14 coombs an acre was expected, higher than elsewhere. For malting, an unsheaved scythed crop turned over for two or three days in sunny weather gave good results.
OATS – seed were sown in Spring, using 5 bushels an acre of broadcast. When drilling was used ( in Happisburgh not until 19th century) only half that quantity was required.
BEANS – were grown by Mr. Wiseman of Happisburgh in the late 18th century, but were not found elsewhere in the district. Seed was sown by hand in every other furrow, and the ground was hand hoed twice. The crop yielded 14 or 15 coombs an acre, and was used for fodder.
PEAS – were also grown for fodder. Dibbling was often used, and the crop was not hoed.
TURNIPS OR SWEDES – this crop had been introduced to Norfolk in the 1560’s by ‘the Strangers’ – refugees from the religious persecutions in the Low Countries. By the18th Century some, but by no means all, farmers in Happisburgh were growing for fodder.
CLOVER – white clover was thought to make the best hay. Mr. Wiseman sowed 19 lb. per acre (the normal quantity was 12 lb.) and could cut two waggon loads from each acre. Ryegrass and vetches were also sown for hay.
BUCKWHEAT – is a member of the dock and knot grass family. It was fed green to sheep and the seeds were cracked to provide fodder for cows, horses and pigs. The seeds, like miniature beech-nuts, were sown from mid May to early June.
CROP ROTATIONS varied, but the Norfolk Four-Course of turnips, barley, clover and wheat was popular.