Richard Payne is busy drilling rapeseed behind the subsoiler at Manor Farm, Heathfield, Somerset, having finished combining on Friday (7 September).
“I’m about halfway through the oilseed rape, and it’s slow going behind the subsoiler. But the soil is in such poor condition that we’ve got to lift a bit of the surface compaction,” he said.
“It’s hard to tell whether to rush ahead with the drilling, as we’re probably now going to have the longest driest autumn ever.”
Last year Mr Payne broke his farm records for all the right reasons, with first and second wheats averaging 11.9t/ha across the whole farm, and one field of Oakley yielding 14.3t/ha.
“This year we had a field of Oakley after rapeseed that yielded just 5.4t/ha. The Oakley was just an unmitigated disaster this year and we won’t be growing it again.”
Grafton performed well as a second wheat, with better bushel weights than the other varieties, said Mr Payne. “One field did 9.8t/ha, so we will be keeping it as a back up this year.
“But most of the wheat will be Diego, which averaged 7.4-8.6t/ha this year.”
PR46W21 and Cabernet oilseed rape did pretty well, at 4.6t/ha, but winter beans, which yielded 6.2t/ha last year, only managed 3.2-3.8t/ha.
“It could have been a lot worse – we haven’t lost any crops, and most of it came in at 15-17% moisture, which is a small mercy.
“But we put on five fungicide applications, and terribly expensive fertiliser, so our margins aren’t going to be worth looking at.”