9 November 2001

Early October soaking is no barrier in the south

By Andrew Blake

WHEN the heavens opened in Sussex at the end of September with only about 55% of his autumn drilling done, farmers weeklys barometer farmer Tim Lock feared for a repeat of autumn 2000.

"In fact, we ended up with a good run, despite 6in of rain between Sept 26 and Oct 11." By Oct 30, all 240ha (600 acres) of cereals on the home farm and a similar contracted area were sown.

"We have got on a lot better than last year. At the start of November 2000 we still had 280 acres to do and 80 of that never went in. All we have left this time are 26 acres of Clipper winter beans for seed, which we will plough in soon."

With millers already bemoaning a potential shortage of Group 2 wheat varieties, Mr Lock is glad he stuck largely to his original cropping plan for Houghton Farm, near Arundel.

It includes 57ha (140 acres) of Option from farm-saved seed and the same area of Charger, the last to be sown. "We are also trying 60 acres of Claire, which went in before the rains on Sept 10. The rest is Aardvark."

Apart from Claires introduction, the only other change has been substitution of Fidelio triticale for Jalna oats. "We have dropped most of the oats. They just do not perform on our sandier land."

Mr Locks 55ha (135 acres) of Pearl winter barley, replacing Regina, hit the soil just before the weather broke.