Simon Beddows

Congratulations to tractor driver Ian and his wife Helen, on the birth of baby Louise, well timed to arrive between harvest and autumn drilling.

Ironically, spring crops were harvested between showers, having suffered from a lack of moisture. Yields of spring oats, beans and barley were all very poor.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

The maize, on the other hand, seemed to do OK once it got up and away. The crop harvested during the last weekend of September yielded just below average.

The Henley Show was once again a fantastic event and there was a great effort by all involved. It seems to get better every year. As a rule we start drilling the week after the show, but this time the intention was to leave it another week to ensure better weed control from our stale seed-beds.

It’s always a compromise here, as on our drought-prone soils, mid-September drilling does help produce a root structure better able to deal with the inevitable lack of moisture later in the growing season. However, where we have blackgrass this is not always the best plan. Anyway, with another 40mm of rain on to already damp soils, the start of drilling was somewhat later than planned.

This year, the winter cereal acreage will consist of milling wheat and feed barley, with a larger area of Skyfall replacing Solstice, and Crusoe remaining the same. Winter barley variety Tower, joins Glacier and Volume from last year.

Oilseed rape has benefited from the rainfall and has quickly grown away from any pest problems that might have beset it. There looks to be plenty of acorns on the oak trees, so let’s hope that keeps our feathered friends busy over the winter.

The rugby world cup is up and running and proving to be as entertaining as ever. I still can’t believe what Japan did to South Africa.

By the time you read this, we should know which teams have made it into the next stage, so whoever you support, enjoy the games and may the best side win.


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