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Dennis Ford

5 March 1999

FARMERFOCUS

James Hosking

James Hosking farms 516ha

(1275 acres) with his

parents and brother at

Fentongollan, Tresillian,

Truro, Cornwall. Land is

equally split between share

farming, various FBTs and a

tenancy. Crops include

wheat, oats, barley and

daffodils, alongside sheep

and cattle enterprises

THE past month has been busy, and for once the weather has been kind to us.

We are up to date on arable work, at last, with the last field of winter wheat drilled at the end of January and herbicides applied. It was a great relief to get the ipu plus Panther (ipu + dff) tank-mix on to wheats and barleys as the chemical had been sitting in store since November. We are currently applying the compound fertiliser and 40 kg/ha (32 units/acre) of nitrogen to the cereals. Then we will start on the grass.

Daffodil picking has been full steam ahead and we are now through the majority of the crop. The cooler temperatures through February slowed flower growth and allowed us to keep on top of the picking. If the weather gets too mild at the wrong time we cant pick fast enough. A field of daffodils in full bloom looks very pretty for the local public, but we would much rather have sold them!

The price for the flowers is another matter. It seems too many daffodils are grown in Cornwall and the Channel Islands, over-supplying the market.

My brother has had a busy month filling the module tunnels with cauliflower, cabbage and calabrese plants for summer cutting programmes and we are about to start drawing the first of our 1600 fat lambs. The current price at £2.80/kg deadweight is a lot better than we feared it might be.

Our local authority has just announced that it is considering banning GM foods from schools and care homes until they are proved safe. The problem seems to me to be that people are worried by the new technology, and that is compounded by the way the media report it to make it newsworthy. Unfortunately, following the BSE crisis, we have all learnt not to trust reassurances of the politicians and are wary of scientists who seem to have a multitude of different vested interests. &#42

Kevin Littleboy

Kevin Littleboy farms 243ha

(600 acres) as Howe

Estates at Howe, Thirsk,

North Yorks. The medium

sandy loam in the Vale of

York supports potatoes,

winter wheat, rape and

barley, plus grass for sheep

WINDS gusting 100mph dried our waterlogged fields a treat, but I dare say the eleven lorry drivers whose vehicles were blown over on the nearby A1 were less enthusiastic. I nearly became a casualty of the conditions too, not due to the winds but because I was gawping over the hedge at a tractor spreading fertiliser across 900 metres in one pass. Must be a new design of spreader!

Drilling winter wheat is at last finished with Claire and Abbott going in on last years potato land. I couldnt get hold of any spring wheat so now I am praying for enough cold weather to con the seed into thinking its winter. Whether this was a good decision or a disaster only time will tell. Autumn herbicide sprays were completed on Feb 6; the first dry, calm, frost-free day since November.

Recently I visited the new Central Science Laboratory near York. After all the cuts in research we hear about, I for one came away incredibly impressed by the £33.7m worth of work done there on everybodys behalf.

The Food Science Laboratory moves there this year too, and the exchange of ideas and interaction of different research projects carried out under one roof can only be of benefit. While the CSLs prime aim is to provide MAFF with scientific services, funding also comes from other government departments, levy bodies, the European Union and the private sector.

One example of the excellent work is alternative crops. Once only pipe dreams, some are now credible and worthwhile income earners, grown by farmers and sold to meet real market needs. I recommend a visit to CSL for all, even if it is only to their website: www.csl.gov.uk or for alternative crop information: www.csl.gov.uk/ienica

Now I am off to drill my cannabis – sorry, I mean hemp. And it hasnt rained for three days so I had better service the irrigators, or is that rain on the window? &#42

Teddy Maufe

Teddy Maufe farms 407ha

(1000 acres) as the tenant of Branthill Farm, part of

the Holkham Estate,

Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk.

Sugar beet lies at the heart

of the rotation, with other

crops including winter

barley,wheat and oats,

spring barley and triticale

WE are striving to catch up with our work schedule whenever the land is dry enough to venture onto it. The last of our heavier land for this seasons sugar beet was at last ploughed in mid February – some two months later than usual and leaving little time for a frost tilth.

Optic spring barley drilling behind sugar beet started on Feb 2. A Terra-disc in front of the plough levelled the worst of the ruts left from the beet trailers and in one good week we planted half the 80ha (200 acres) before snow stopped play. The job was finished on Feb 24 and it is a relief to have it all in.

We carted in our last load of sugar beet two days before the factory closed. The clamped beet were in good condition helped by low bruising levels from the TIM harvester. Final results for the campaign are: clean yield 59.6 t/ha (24 t/acre), adjusted yield 65.2 t/ha (26.4 tons/acre), top tare 6.4%, dirt tare 6.4%, amino nitrogen 107, sugar 17.1%.

That is a farm record, surpassing even last year, so again we are slightly trimming back our acreage. But not too much as a summer drought can seriously undermine our yields here. However, I think that the August applied Alto (cyproconazole) has been a significant factor in increasing our yields, keeping the crop canopy healthy and thus extending the growing season.

Our bank manager has just made his annual visit. An increasing overdraft appears an inescapable factor based on our cash flow projections for this year, even with the farm producing bounteous yields. We continue to try to drive down variable costs where possible, and fixed costs too have been trimmed. But as a tenant some are beyond my control.

Finally, a plug for Shuttleworth College Association. I must urge former students to return registration forms as soon as possible or, sadly, this institution will join the growing number of such organisations that have folded. &#42

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

TALKING with some hockey and farming friends from Cheltenham I was quite surprised to hear their stories about excellent yields last year. Having moved all of our feed wheat we now know how well we did, or rather didnt, do.

Our average yield was only 6.7t/ha (2.7t/acre), which is not good but better than I feared. Brown rust on Buster was mainly to blame, as we were unable to spray because of the weather at the time. What is a pleasant surprise is the fact that the vast majority of the tonnage went off the farm above 72 kg/hl. Now for the milling wheat which is still in store.

Field work started briefly in mid February, but has ground to a halt again. We put 56kg/ha (70 units/acre) of nitrogen on oilseed rape but have had to sit and wait since then. At the end of last week things were starting to dry a little but weekend rain could change all that.

Taking a look at the worst wheats I noticed there are many patches in the middle of the field which the slugs have eaten. But they are not all in one part of the field, so it is difficult to decide whether or not to re-drill. At present it is too wet to do anything, so we have a bit of time to sit on the fence before making a decision. But if we do decide to replace any patches, the chances are it will be with linseed. That, of course, can be done quite late in the season, buying even more time to fully appraise the crop, or lack of it, before admitting defeat to the slugs.

Away from the farm, the dismantling of the earthworks sheds continues. The roof sections are down and back at the farm, but a crane will have to be hired to lower the RSJs to the ground and complete the exercise. &#42

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Dennis Ford

5 February 1999

Kevin Littleboy

Kevin Littleboy farms 243ha

(600 acres) as Howe

Estates at Howe, Thirsk,

North Yorks. The medium

sandy loam in the Vale of

York supports potatoes,

winter wheat, rape and

barley, plus grass for sheep

NOTHING has changed since my last ramblings; it has never once dried up and the perpetual rain, drizzle, snow, cloud, mist, and flooding from the River Swale has prevented any land work, let alone the drilling and spraying still to do.

While I have not been farming for donkeys years, like some, this is definitely the wettest autumn/winter I have ever known. Even my eternal optimism has been dented, so I am off to water-ski across the flooded fields!

At least the Environment Agency has been kept busy issuing yellow and red flood alerts. Talking of which, the new groundwater regulations appear to me to be a costly exercise of little benefit. If people complain of filling in IACS and assurance scheme forms, just wait until you receive these long and complicated quizzes.

The only thing these groundwater rules will achieve is to increase the threat of surface-water pollution. Those affected will have to store the spray washings and sheep dip until the appropriate time of the year when we can dispose of the "water". Storage of any waste leads to risks and I would have thought the £20m would be better spent on preventing surface water pollution from industry and sewage plants, etc.

We are becoming such a nanny state that I wonder if any politician or civil servant in the European Commission or our government has heard of common sense. It would not surprise me if future footpath notices had to carry the following message: "If caught short on your walk please phone the Department of the Environment and Trade for permission to pee."

I have to say that while I am pleased the ministry has finally asked all farmers about their views on the future of agriculture, I find the questions bland and uninspiring. Perhaps Oliver Walston should have scripted the form for Mr Brown. That would have been interesting and guaranteed a vigorous response.

Teddy Maufe

Teddy Maufe farms 407ha

(1000 acres) as the tenant

of Branthill Farm, part of

the Holkham Estate,

Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk.

Sugar beet lies at the heart

of the rotation, with other

crops including winter

barley,wheat and oats,

spring barley and triticale

OLIVER Walston brags about his IACS cheque as though it were a rather embarrassing extra Christmas present from the bureaucrats in Brussels.

Like many tenant farmers who have 75% of their farm in cereals, my IACS cheque is swallowed up by my rent. I resent his programme painting the picture of the typical East Anglian farmer as owning 800ha (2000 acres) of prime arable land. In fact he is one of a privileged top 10%.

But I do agree with Oliver about the unsustainable madness of setting out to grow crops for which there is no real market. Although I realise intervention has been an invaluable tool to put a floor in the cereal market, I have never sold a grain of corn into it yet. I would regard such a sale as an absolute last resort and an admission of marketing failure on my part.

It is still too wet to start spring barley drilling and in this the last week of January I am getting keen to get some in soon. No doubt Mother Nature will see to it that after this deluge, over 80mm (3in) in the month, we will have a dry spring. That is a bad scenario for late drilled spring barley on this light land.

I have been working out gross margins on my cereals and only the Riband wheat and Regina winter barley show positive figures, courtesy of their well above average yields last year. The premium for Halcyon malting barley did not compensate enough for the lower yield of 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) and the spring barley at 5.9t/ha (2.4t/acre) only just breaks even thanks to its reduced growing costs.

We finished sugar beet harvesting on Jan 11 and now await a modification to the front rotor-topper blades of our Tim harvester. I hope they will then withstand the occasional flint and not disintegrate with the monotonous regularity that they have this season.

Oliver Walston does not represent the typical East Anglian farmer, says north Norfolk grower Teddy Maufe. But he does have a point about growing for markets.

Oliver Walston does not represent the typical East Anglian farmer, says north Norfolk grower Teddy Maufe. But he does have a point about growing for markets.

Early daffodil picking is underway on James Hoskings Cornish farm, but not much else. The spring workload is getting congested with no fertiliser or cereal herbicides applied yet and the main daffodil crop to come.

James Hosking

James Hosking farms 516ha

(1275 acres) with his

parents and brother at

Fentongollan, Tresillian,

Truro, Cornwall. Land is

equally split between share

farming, various FBTs and a

tenancy. Crops include

wheat, oats, barley and

daffodils, alongside sheep

and cattle enterprises

I HAD hoped the January weather might be a little kinder and let us catch up with our outstanding autumn work.

Instead we have had our record rainfall, or at least a record for the 10 years that I have been recording it. Our only field work since Christmas has been one fungicide spray on 20ha (50 acres) of daffodils.

Irritatingly we still have about 6ha (15 acres) of winter wheat and 8ha (20 acres) of oats to drill. The wheat is in a partially drilled field, so I am particularly keen to get it finished. But the oat seed can stay in the shed for next autumn. I think the field will be drilled with linseed instead.

No compound fertiliser has been applied yet, nor have any cereal herbicides. It looks as though these jobs will have to be fitted in while we are in the middle of flower picking, stretching our resources.

The daffodils have been threatening to start for several weeks now, but short cold snaps keep holding them back. Last week we did start picking our main early varieties and the price has been holding up well so far. We will have to wait to see what happens when the large volumes reach the markets.

If it carries on being so wet, one of our biggest headaches will be mud on the roads from the tractors hauling the flowers out of fields back to the farm. The tolerance level of the public here seems to fall every year.

Our cattle are all housed and look well on round bale silage. But the sheep are not enjoying the weather. The ground is so wet that a lot of the grass gets trodden in before they get a chance to eat it.

Managing ewes and lambs is a labour intensive business when conditions are so bad. Fortunately, our extra work has paid off with few losses so far and, I hope, we will be able to market most of them around Easter.

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

AS one door closes, another opens. Lesley, who has been the backbone of the farm office, has handed in her notice. We wish her well and I hope it was not the strain of working with me that prompted her departure.

That means I will have to get stuck in with the office work. Returning to the old regime of Sarah, who has been on extended maternity leave, will be a good discipline. She does our books from her home and can be "rather dominant" but will no doubt keep me, the office and the budget in a straight line.

Little field work has been possible recently. We did get some base fertiliser to the light land crops, largely thanks to the Frazier Agribuggy and low ground pressure tyres. Once we had become used to our new spreader, the system worked well, allowing us to apply very close to the required amounts despite some steep slopes. One field received 75kg/ha (60 units/acre) of phosphate and potash as a compound, while the other two had 57kg/ha (46 units/acre) of phosphate as TSP and 150kg/ha (120 units/acre) of potash as MOP respectively.

Mike, our agronomist, and I have finally worked out the remaining spring cropping. We had been toying with the idea of putting winter oilseed rape into industrial contracts and using this land as set-aside. However, as a great fence-balancer, I have decided to put only half into industrial cropping, allowing us to plant more of the light land to Optic spring barley, and put a small amount into linseed.

This week we have been in the demolition business, taking down a shed for a local earthworks firm. Besides being paid to do this, we will take the building back to the farm and re-erect it at our leisure. It will be a general store initially, but with grain walling and a concrete floor would make a useful grain store for the twenty-first century.

Wilts grower Dennis Ford has managed to get base fertilisers onto his light land. A new spreader means accurate applications even on the slopes.

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Dennis Ford

29 May 1998

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

SINCE last writing much has happened on the farm; the rain stopped at the beginning of the month and we were able to complete our "early spring" spraying.

The programme included treating our second wheats, typically with a mixture of 0.23 litres/ha Genie (flusilazole), 0.2 litres/ha Mistral (fenpropimorph) and chlormequat at 0.75 litres/ha with, where needed, 0.5 litres/ha Multimin (liquid trace elements).

The first wheats had a dose of 0.35 litres/ha Opus (epoxiconazole), 0.2 litres/ha Mistral, and chlormequat at 0.75 litres/ha. All of the wheat crops have received their total nitrogen for this year except milling varieties, where we will be putting on a further 43kg/ha (34.5 units/acre).

The remaining winter barley crop was finally able to be sprayed with 0.5 litres/ha Punch C (carbendazim + flusilazole) and Avenge (difenzoquat) at 5 litres/ha followed a week later. I hope the wild oats will, if not killed, at least be stunted.

The Punch winter beans have been treated for chocolate spot with a treatment of 0.5 litres/ha Folicur (tebuconazole) and 0.5 litres/ha mbc. From the ground the crop looks pretty good, but last week I was fortunate to be taken on a helicopter ride around the farm, and the beans from up there did not look so good. Some of the middle parts of the fields look quite disappointing, and I wonder if we did something wrong at planting.

We have at last planted all of the flax and spring rape – Laura and Liga, respectively. The two fields of flax planted on May 2 are up and away and are due to be sprayed with cypermethrin to take out flea-beetles, while the OSR and last field of flax have dried out and have yet to germinate. My good friend "Picky", who I bumped into (or rather he fell into me!) at a wedding recently, told me not to worry, as it will all soon catch up. I hope he is right.

A helicopter trip over the farm put a new perspective on Punch beans at Dennis Fords Home Farm, Hinton Parva, Wilts.

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Dennis Ford

1 May 1998

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

CONSIDERING all the rain we have had since I last wrote, we have had a busy time.

The Ark is now nearing completion and the animals have been selected out of a list including two guinea pigs, two cats, one dog and a certain number of grain mites! We are looking for volunteers to man it. Any offers?

We managed to complete some spraying and fertilising, often in less than favourable conditions. The winter rape had 0.5litres/ha of Folicur (tebuconazole) and 0.1 litres/ha of Fastac (alpha-cypermethrin) with some copper and trace elements. There were signs of alternaria and botrytis, and on field inspection we found some pollen beetles too. Copper was added as a precaution because the crop is on light downland.

The winter wheats are being treated for septoria and rusts with Epic (epoxiconazole) at 0.35litres/ha, not only for its efficacy but also as it has come down in price. First wheats are receiving first nitrogens where we can travel, 86kg/ha (69 units/acre) of a total 216kg/ha (173 units/acre). Second wheats had the same three weeks ago, and will get a top-up to 187kg/ha (150 units/acre) total as soon as we catch up with our work load.

The Optic spring barley, despite little movement in the past two weeks, is now ready for a general broad-leaf weed spray, probably Harmony M (metsulfuron-methyl + thifensulfuron-methyl). One of the headlands needs Tigress (diclofop-methyl + fenoxaprop-P-ethyl) for very bad blackgrass infestation.

Winter beans are beginning to grow, but are not overly forward. No disease is apparent but cleavers are beginning to appear. These may need to be treated with a dose of Basagran (bentazone) if the weather warms up.

On the very low ground Rifle winter barley has not received a treatment of anything since February, mainly for fear of losing the Frazier Agribuggy. Hopefully it will get its remaining nitrogen soon and a spray for wild oats, which are now beginning to look like Triffids.

The Frazier Agribuggy has not been on low-lying barley since February for fear of losing it in the mud, says Wilts farmer Dennis Ford. But it has been busy spraying winter oilseed rape.

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Dennis Ford

6 March 1998

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

NEVER mind a week in politics – what a difference a month can make in farming.

Since the last article we have had a dry and mild time, so much so that we have more than caught up with the work. The winter oilseed rape has begun to move and we have completed two applications of nitrogen, so far totalling 175kg/ha (140 units/acre).

Mike, our agronomist, has taken tissue samples and the results have shown phosphorus, sulphur, manganese and boron levels are normal, although potassium, magnesium and copper are all little low. That is what we would expect on the light, puffy downland.

Last week we completed the planting of the Optic spring barley. As planned we disced and coil rolled and then ring rolled in front of the drill and ring rolled again. This proved successful, giving us a firm seed-bed, stopping us from planting too deep and at a reasonable cost.

The seed was planted at a rate of 380/sq m and had a seed dressing of film-coated Panoctine (guazatine + imazalil), manganese and a root growth promotant. This should give it a good start.

All the second wheats have now had 43kg/ha of nitrogen, as has the winter barley. The first wheats have had no treatment yet, but the earlier wheats have now reached growth stage 30 and are due for a growth regulator. But with winter weather expected to return we decided to wait and see what happens.

The ground has dried out enough for sewage sludge to be delivered and spreading has been completed. That has allowed us to plough the clay cap ground and to get some weathering before planting with spring oilseed rape.

One field of Hereward wheat has been treated for manganese deficiency and was given 2.5 litres/ha of liquid manganese. It is now showing signs of recovery. &#42

Tissue tests revealed extra nutrient needs in rape on Dennis Fords downland soils in Wilts. Optic spring barley has now all been sown.

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Dennis Ford

6 February 1998

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

BEING a mainly arable farm, we have had a relatively quiet period. But we are now going through a hive of activity.

The recent dryish weather has allowed us to get on with some field work (it almost feels like spring is here). On the lighter downland we have at last been able to complete our autumn fertiliser programme.

However, on the heavier clay soils we are still unable to get anywhere near the fields for fear of either making a real mess or getting stuck. Some patience is, Im afraid, still required.

The contractor, who is spreading fertiliser onto the fields that have recently been GPS mapped, is hoping to come to us next week. But without some decent frosts I dont think he will make much progress.

The weather has also allowed us to try out our recently acquired set of discs on 24ha (60 acres) of spring barley land which is destined for Chariot or Optic. We have completed the first pass with them, and the plan is to disc and coil roll, and if necessary, ring roll, and then drill. This will be on the much lighter, puffy downland fields only.

We are awaiting the return of the sewage sludge people who were rained off with their deliveries way back in late November, and so could not complete their task.

They should be here today and tomorrow, and if so, we will, hopefully complete the spreading of that material which will then allow us to plough the heavier clay-cap ground to try and get some weathering into the soil in readiness for linola.

Having spoken to Gerald at our grain marketing co-operative, it appears that we will probably have no other option than to join the grain assurance scheme, so a little bit of homework is going to be necessary. &#42

The recent dry weather means "autumn" fertiliser applications are now finished on lighter downland soils, says Dennis Ford.

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Dennis Ford

9 January 1998

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

WITHOUT going into too much detail, December turned out to be fairly quiet.

Having completed our spraying, we decided to attack our fertilising programme.

Although we have a Frazier Agribuggy (which can normally walk on water), the wet ground would not let us get far without making a mess, so we decided to wait for some drier conditions. But when they came the wind was far too strong for us to make a start. Now the wind has dropped, it is again too wet!

We have at last received our soil sample results and maps from our local GPS and mapping company. These have showed up some interesting results.

Where we now have two fields there were once five (the hedges and boundaries were taken out 30 years ago). The levels of both P and K show marked variations, especially where the soil changes in structure. The heavier ground proved to be more deficient than the lighter areas, ranging from 1- up to 3+.

This year we will have contractors in to spread the fertiliser, if it dries out enough, but next year we may be able to justify our own GPS machinery and software.

Our spring groundwork has also not taken place yet. All of this is on the downland, so I am not too concerned at present. Seed-beds are fairly easy to create once we get a short dry spell.

To help with this process, we have bought a second-hand set of discs with a following coil press. One pass with this combination followed by our one-pass cultivator should allow us to sow with our new (last autumn) Accord 6m disc drill.

Dennis Fords autumn spraying campaign is now complete. Compound fertiliser is the next input to be applied as soon as soils start to dry out.

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Dennis Ford

14 November 1997

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

AT last the panic is over; harvest is gone and forgotten and now we are looking forward to next year.

All the crops went into good seed-beds, but some dried out in places leading to uneven germination. But most plants are now through and in clear drill lines.

The hybrid winter oilseed rape has yet to stop growing and is looking well ahead of itself. Could this mean an early harvest? Some slug pellets have been applied to the heavy ground, more in expectation of trouble than as a response to grazing. The lighter ground has not shown any indications of trouble, but no doubt slugs are waiting to pounce.

At the time of writing the fine, frosty weather is coming to an end. We have been keen to get started on the spraying for some time, but held off on the advice of our agronomist, Mike.

Spraying of Kerb (propyzamide) and cypermetherin on the winter oilseed rape has now been completed, even though some of the tramlines were not visible due to the excessive growth.

The winter wheat is due to be sprayed with IPU and Ardent (trifluralin + diflufenican). Some blackgrass is now past the one-leaf stage and, as most of the winter wheat and barley plants are now through the ground and hardened by the frost, it is safe to spray.

Some of the downland has not received any rain for nearly a month, and some leaves are starting to turn blueish, green. I am told that this is due to lack of potash, thanks to the dry weather and cold winds. Perhaps this will change. At least with some wet weather ahead I can concentrate on my budget again. When I need cheering up I might go and see The Full Monty. &#42

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