By the law of averages the dry spell that was due has allowed autumn cultivations and sowing to tick along very nicely.

As expected the land is turning up wet and, where corn trailer & combine wheelings occurred, not very friable. But leaving a day between passes has enabled us to create good seed-beds for late sown oilseed rape and first wheat crops.

Oakley is our first wheat choice, but a thousand grain weight of only 44kg/hl has meant a very low seed rate to sow the required 200/sq m. Winter barley, on the heavier land this year, has needed a careful approach to seed-bed preparation using the plough.

There is no rush to sow second wheat as we aim for mid-October. Cordiale will be grown for the first time to keep our options open if milling premiums rise to the required level.

All first wheat fields have been rolled and treated pre-emergence with a mix of 2.5 litres/ha of Trooper (flufenacet + pendimethalin) and 2 litres/ha of trifluralin.

The oilseed rape will receive post-emergence herbicide Novall (metazachor + quinmerac) plus insecticide. We wanted to ensure the crop emerged successfully after later sowing and tremendous slug pressure.

Rolling and regular crop inspections seem to have done the trick, and so far one treatment with mini slug pellets has sufficed.

The trial plots have been sown by Andy Hartley and his TAG team. There are about 10ha on the farm and preparing the area can sometimes cause a bit of a problem when we’re busy sowing our own crops – especially with our reduced labour and machinery set up.

It’s imperative, for the validity of the results, that the site is established correctly. There are no second chances when drilling trials areas, and thankfully once again our site looks excellent.