If you’re located further to the West or North you may want to take a deep breath in readiness to fire a torrent of abuse at me for what I am about to say…. it’s too dry here.

The oilseed rape is sitting in concrete and at that stage where it seems to be frozen in fear in the face of a pest onslaught. Staring at it intently whenever I get the chance doesn’t seem to help. We did use a starter fertiliser in the seed row, including a plant growth hormone that speeds up germination, but crucially my local distributor seems to have run out of rain.

As ever, my continued fiddling about has had successes and failures; direct drilling rape at 50cm row spacing certainly managed the mass of spring barley straw well, has conserved moisture and may even allow some inter-row spraying. Unfortunately, the companion crop we drilled in alternate rows with some oilseed rape may not give us many answers this year, as it turns out the seed supplied from France was the wrong mix. We’ve also put in a strip of wild flowers alongside some rape specifically designed to increase pollination and it will be interesting to see if this has any effect – or even establishes!

With the specific weight of wheat being an issue this year, I tried a quick “Google” search to see if I could discover what the implications might be for feed value. Not only does the HGCA report of 1997 find no effect, but a series of studies published in British Poultry Science agreed. They culminated in a 2008 paper, the shortened title of which speaks for itself: “Lack of relationship between… specific weight …and nutritive value of wheat in broiler diets.” So no need for large penalties on feed wheat then?

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