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Brian Lock

5 June 1998

Brian Lock

Brian Lock farms rented and

owned land in Dorset,

including 200ha (500

acres) at Silverlake Farm,

Sherborne. Cropping

includes wheat and barley

for feed, seed and malting markets plus oilseed rape

and herbage seed

A WEEK is a long time in politics; in arable farming it is very short time when the weather is fine and settled, but interminable when it is wet and windy.

We have been blessed with a spell of favourable weather since I last reported. At that time we were behind schedule. Now we are fortunate having caught up with all of our outstanding arable work.

All our winter wheats have had flag leaf fungicide and, where appropriate, cleaver control herbicide. This year, on our agronomists advice, we used Opus (epoxiconazole) with Bravo (chlorothalonil) fungicides at 1 litre/ha and 0.7 litres/ha, respectively along with 0.5 litres/ha of Starane (fluroxypyr). Disease pressure has been acute and because we still grow Hussar and Brigadier, as well as Consort and Reaper, we have been very cautious.

Our Maris Otter winter barley, both seed and malting, has also benefited from fungicides. Our main concern has been rhynchosporium, so for the T2 treatment we used 1 litre/ha of Opus with 0.25 litres/ha of Mistral (fenpropimorph). But because rhynchosporium was re-infecting, we used a further 0.5 litres/ha of Opus with 0.5 litres/ha of carbendazim just as the ear was emerging. It is so important to keep these crops clean to ensure good grain fill for an acceptable sample to safeguard our seed and malting premiums.

A recent photograph of me standing in a heap of wheat was not, as local gossip had it, a heap of unsold grain. It was and still is some wheat committed to a pool for April/May/June 1998 collection, not through a local co-operative, but a national merchants pool.

This is a new experience for me. I decided to sell some of my wheat in this way after some miserable recent experiences in a wildly unpredictable market. Collections have only just started. The old adage about tops and bottoms of markets and for whom they were "made" rings in the ears, so it will be interesting to see how the professionals do. &#42

Brian Lock is investigating new grain marketing options this season, including a national pool.

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Brian Lock

8 May 1998

Brian Lock

Brian Lock farms rented and

owned land in Dorset,

including 200ha (500

acres) at Silverlake Farm,

Sherborne. Cropping

includes wheat and barley

for feed, seed and malting markets plus oilseed rape

and herbage seed

A MONTH ago we were well up together with all our field and arable work, but April turned from being the wettest month this century to the wettest on record.

How things have changed or rather, perhaps, stood still.

We have struggled to do any spraying or fertilising because of rain or wind or both. At the time of writing we still have final top dressings of ammonium nitrate to complete on winter wheat and spring oilseed rape. We have managed to complete the T1 fungicide sprays on the wheats, but some applications were made only shortly before yet more rain fell.

We have a big programme of spraying ahead of us in the next few days to say nothing of fertilisers still to be applied. It includes T2 fungicide on winter barley where disease pressures are acute and herbicide on spring oilseed rape. Let us hope that the Bank Holiday weekend will bring more favourable weather for us all, those who have to work and those who might be able to enjoy it.

Two fields of Molisto tetraploid hybrid ryegrass 0have been rolled and fertilised with ammonium nitrate to bring the total nitrogen up to 156kg/ha (125 units/acre). We have two other fields of the same variety which we plan to cut for silage, we hope before May 10, in good dry conditions. We shall then roll, fertilise and shut them up for seed.

This is the first year we have taken silage as part of the seed growing programme, The idea is to spread the harvest date. It works according to experiments. Will it work in practice? We shall see.

We had our verifiers visit and assessment for the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme. There are a number of things we must attend to and procedures we have to improve or put right. I was extremely apprehensive but am relieved these are not nearly as insurmountable as I had feared. &#42


Brian Lock is thankful his ACCS grain store inspection passed without too many problems.

Brian Lock is thankful his ACCS grain store inspection passed without too many problems.

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Brian Lock

13 March 1998

Brian Lock

Brian Lock farms rented and

owned land in Dorset,

including 200ha (500

acres) at Silverlake Farm,

Sherborne. Cropping

includes wheat and barley

for feed, seed and malting markets plus oilseed rape

and herbage seed

UP until the end of February we were blessed with the most favourable weather, far better than I could have dared to hope for.

We have more or less caught up with all of our outstanding arable work and have made a satisfactory start on the first round of spring fertilising, spraying and sowing.

All our winter wheat has received its first dose of ammonium nitrate 34.5% at 125kg/ha (1cwt/acre) and the crops are already showing a response. The balance of the autumn and winter spraying has been completed on the cereals and the herbage seeds.

Some strong blackgrass in a crop of Elgon perennial ryegrass had not been treated with Leyclene (bromoxynil + ethofumesate + ioxynil) and TCA until early January. This was sprayed towards the end of February with 1 litre/ha of Cheetah S (fenoxaprop-P-ethyl) plus mineral oil. That certainly knocked the blackgrass, whether it has killed it time will tell.

We have completed most of our spring barley sowing. This year, for the first time, we are growing Optic on a malting contract. It was sown into good conditions in late February at 177kg/ha (158lb/acre).

This seeding rate is much higher than our normal 150kg/ha (134lb/acre). But it was necessary to achieve the prescribed 350 seeds a sq m. As this two-year contract for 1997 and 1998 crops is particularly favourable on price, provided we achieve the relevant specification, I am most anxious to follow all the specified guidelines.

Last week we started loading out 1997 Chariot malting barley grown on this contract. Needless to say I was extremely nervous, bearing in mind all the horror stories and the fact that each load was travelling 250 miles to the maltster. Fortunately we have only had one rejection in eight loads to date. That was because of a low vitascope, which is not confirmed on our own machine. We shall see. &#42

Ideal conditions for drilling have seen good progress with Optic on Brian Locks Dorset farm. Attractive contract terms meant rigorous attention to seed rate to meet all guidelines given.

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Brian Lock

13 February 1998

Brian Lock

Brian Lock farms rented and

owned land in Dorset,

including 200ha (500

acres) at Silverlake Farm,

Sherborne. Cropping

includes wheat and barley

for feed, seed and malting markets plus oilseed rape

and herbage seed

WHAT a difference a weeks fine weather can make to the farming scene. We have been blessed with almost two weeks of dry weather now, with sunshine, some wind to help dry up the soil and varying degrees of frost last week.

We have more or less caught up with what we should have done last autumn and early winter and made a start on some spring fertiliser spreading.

Phosphate and potash have gone onto all our autumn sown wheat and barley, plus the newly sown and second year herbage seed and fields which have been ploughed for spring cereals and oilseed rape.

Standard rate is 250kg/ha of 0.24.24. This is, topped up as and when needed according to soil analysis, with muriate of potash (0.0.60) at anything up to 125kg/ha. This has now all been finished, thanks to our dual wheels.

We have also completed the balance of the herbicide spraying programme in the cereals and herbage seeds. For the cereals, Isotop (IPU) and Fenican (diflufenican and IPU), plus cypermethrin have been the main products. Care has had to be exercised with night frosts giving temperatures of -5C.

On some of the second year herbage seed we have used Leyclene (bromoxynil + ethofumesate + ioxynil) with L1700 wetter to tackle sterile brome in headlands. The instruction for this tank mix is to apply in as frosty conditions as possible – provided the liquid does not freeze in the pipes.

We are now putting on the first of the ammonium nitrate to the Molisto tetraploid hybrid ryegrass at 250kg/ha to encourage some early growth for the first grazing of these seed crops for our ewes and lambs in early March.

It has been a pleasure to get on with some work, to catch up and to sell some lambs in spite of the overall depressing and still declining economic conditions. &#42

Glad to be back on the land – Brian Lock is fast catching up with work halted in the winter by wet weather. Frosts are helping to boost brome control.

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Brian Lock

21 November 1997

Brian Lock

Brian Lock farms rented and

owned land in Dorset,

including 200ha (500 acres)

at Silverlake Farm,

Sherborne. Cropping includes

wheat and barley for feed,

seed and malting markets

plus oilseed rape and

herbage seed

AMONG other crops, I try to grow malting barley, the winter varieties Maris Otter and Pipkin, and Chariot in the spring. Many years ago my father was lucky enough to win the National Malting Barley competition with a sample of Proctor.

Last year one of our crops of Maris Otter did well enough to get into the finals of the FW/DuPont Barley-to-Beer competition. I entered again this year, but did not even get as far as crop inspection. I can only think the judges had some advance knowledge of how our crops were going to fare this year.

We have been growing Maris Otter for a few years both for malting and for seed. Until this year all our crops have met quality standards with no problems. Unfortunately, this year has turned out to be a near disaster. We had skinned and split grains, wheat admixture and nitrogens that were too high.

One of the seed crops also failed because of wheat admixture, despite being grown on a field which was Maris Otter last year and only wheat in 1995. We have never had that problem before.

All in all the malting barley was a great disappointment, particularly bearing in mind the loving care and attention lavished on these crops and strict adherence with the contract growing requirements, not least as far as nitrogen fertiliser is concerned.

Ironically, Pipkin, grown at Dorchester with much less care, produced a sample which was accepted. Even though it was a very high priced contract, it went in with almost no deductions.

In spite of this tale of woe we have sown a similar area of Maris Otter for seed and malting for 1998. At the time of writing it looks superb.n

Malting barley quality has brought much frustration for Dorset farmer Brian Lock this year.

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