And now for something completely different – at least harvest was, compared with the past two years.

Although we had a late start, we were finished in exactly a month. The big, green machine never missed a beat and made harvest a stress-free event.

The other positive was that the dryer only had about 200t to take care of. The downside was that with the exception of the winter barley, the yields were very poor. As mentioned before, the combination of shallow rooting and extreme heat in early July on our gravel soils put paid to most of the crops’ potential. The milling wheat did, however, all make the grade, with some of the highest Hagbergs I have ever seen. The problem is so has everyone else’s, so milling premiums are well down.

On to a new cropping year now, so a chance to start again and look forward to harvest 2014 with a degree of optimism that this time last year was definitely missing. The oilseed rape has all been established in a timely manner, but really does need some rain. Better be careful what we wish for. There are no big changes in varieties or rotation for this year, with just a small reduction in the area of oilseed rape.

For the second year running, Kockerling has failed to deliver the drill control box for variable drilling. I know we are not the only UK customer hoping to use this technique, but I don’t think the manufacturer’s home market is interested [Germany], so the sense of urgency seems to be lacking. There is a huge flaw in the isobus system in general, with no fix in sight for at least another five years. Basically, each manufacturer has a different version and compatibility is a huge issue.

Well done to my wife Liz and daughter Rebecca who raised over £2,000 for Riding for the Disabled with the horse event they organised this summer. The money has bought half a horse apparently. Not sure if it’s the end you feed or the end you clean up after.

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize

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