19 June 1998

Farmer Challenge plots are promising

TEAMS in the Lloyds Bank Farmer Group Challenge are bullish.

But with a massive range in agrochemical spending, which crops will produce the best margin and take the trophy?

With an agchem outlay of £168/ha (£68/acre) to date, host farmer Chris Redfearns Equinox needs to yield very well. "The sprayer has been permanently parked at the end of his plot," notes Mark Ireland of Sleaford Farmers. His teams minimal passes policy seems to be paying off and at £81/ha (£33/acre) a lid has been kept on costs.

"We are very happy with our Consort. We hope we will not have to go again having used 0.75 litres/ha of Amistar at flag leaf."

Winning the war on costs, despite growing milling variety Abbot, is De Montfort University. A miserly £55/ha (£22/acre) has been spent on agchems, though an ear wash is planned. Half the crop is sold for £88.50/t, including a £15/t premium for milling.

Alford Farmers has secured £12/t over feed for Rialto. "It should easily achieve budget yield of 9.75 t/ha," says Peter Pridgeon. But spray costs have run a bit over budget.

Son David Pridgeon, of Northern LADS, believes the quality varieties will not stand up. And though the Equinox of the Host Farmer and Southern LADS teams looks good, it will not win, he believes.

"It might yield most, but they have spent too much. Two years ago Consort looked worst, but yielded most. We are going to win." &#42

Our Consort is a winner, say Northern LADS team members David Pridgeon (left) and Tim Needham.