James Moldon manages the
220ha (550 acres) heavy
land Stanaway Farm, Otley,
Suffolk, for the Felix
Crops include winter wheat,
barley, OSR, beans, linseed
and sugar beet
WET January mornings seem to make even the simplest of tasks that much harder.
Again we are having a mild winter and I know it is tempting fate but hard frosts are few and far between. More is the pity in some ways, as we do all our hedge trimming at this time of year. The aim is to cut hedges once their nesting value and food supply has been exhausted but we rely on hard frosts to travel around headlands. This is proving a sticky problem.
The mild weather early in the month encouraged more slug activity and recent frosts have been insufficient to drive them underground. However, I am reluctant to apply more slug pellets while night temperatures are dropping close to or below freezing.
Our stored sugar beet has been moved without any real problems. One hot-spot detected turned out to be due to some feed bins next to the clamp limiting ventilation. As soon as they were moved temperatures stabilised. Despite that, sugar content at 17.6% has hardly changed after eight weeks of storage. Overall yield on the Madison is slightly down on last year.
Autumn spraying was finished on the frost around Christmas and New Year. Oilseed rape received 0.5 litres/ha of Fusilade 250 (fluazifop-P-butyl) to knock out the volunteer cereals and black grass, followed by a separate application of Fortrol at 1 litre/ha to control charlock and chickweed that was competing with the backward rape plants.
We are drawing up budgets for next year and it is worrying how frequently we are now having to put wheat in the rotation. We will definitely be growing more second wheats and the future may lead to third and even continuous wheats. The break crops, oilseed rape and beans in our case, must still be grown even though financially they are inferior to wheats. Soil fertility would suffer without them, but weed management is equally important with the risk of resistant blackgrass. *
Suffolk grower James Moldon has been drawing up next years budget. It is worrying how often wheat will be grown, he says.