Harvesting has started in earnest, crops are turning fast and the winter barley is nearly completed.

Yields are respectable, ranging from 8.7 to 10t/ha, with the two-row variety Retriever out-performing six-row Sequel which had some high screenings. Lack of sun at grain fill has almost certainly played a part in this. However, the crop is destined for the feed market so this will not be an issue.

Some of the six-row barley which was direct-drilled gave us some favourable yields, so this system of establishment will almost definitely be the direction we’ll be taking in future to help reduce costs. Although it brings new challenges, it should be safe to assume that they will be far less than those that arose when the changeover from the plough to min-till was made.

With specialised equipment and advice available the transition should, I hope, be a smooth one. Although min-till has been a success, rising energy prices have focused our attention on how to reduce our fuel bills even more and hopefully improve yields and profits.

Desiccation of the winter oilseed rape was a week later than last year.

Our 40ha of Excalibur, which was sprayed on 8 July, will be ready to harvest as soon as we finish the winter barley.

The 170ha of Castille was four to five days later, and recent warm drying weather will help speed up ripening.

A pod sticker was added to the 2.5 litres/ha of Roundup Gold (glyphosate), the current high price of the crop making its inclusion worthwhile.

Although the weather has been settled for the past two weeks thoughts easily turn to this time last year. I would have written “last summer” but unfortunately we didn’t have one. A repeat of that would be the last thing any of us would like to see.