Jim Bullock farms 283ha
(700 acres) in partnership
with his parents and brother
at Mill Farm, Guarlford,
Malvern, Worcs. Two-thirds
is rented or contract farmed,
the rest owned. Cropping is
winter wheat, winter oilseed
rape and winter beans
AFTER such an awful start to August I can hardly believe that harvest finished nearly a fortnight ago, our oilseed rape is drilled and our stale seedbeds in place ready for cereals.
Hereward was the highlight this harvest, averaging about 8.2t/ha (3.25 tons/acre). Despite the earlier weather worries quality appears to have held with Hagbergs around 300 and proteins above 14%. Probably my greatest disappointment was winter beans. Having established well at what we considered an optimum plant population – 18 plants/sq m – they grew to over 2.5m (8ft) tall and became infected with rust. That proved impossible to control, even with three sprays in some cases, and yield slumped to a less than impressive 3t/ha (24cwt/acre). Spring beans did over 3.7t/ha (30cwt/acre) and, as our best wheats followed spring beans, they will be the preferred option for next year.
We would like to have planted more oilseed rape this autumn but demand for straw has dropped off and establishing it in freshly incorporated straw is very risky. To be successful everything needs to be going for you. We know there are masses of slugs about and soil conditions are now very dry.
Straw disposal is going to become a problem so I think we will have to invest in a Vaderstad Carrier. A demonstration here earlier in the month did a first class job of incorporating chopped straw and producing a consolidated stale seedbed. I particularly liked the high output, which would enable us to keep up with the combine.
Following the proceedings at the Earth Summit, I understand that in the western world we are going to have to accept more agricultural produce from the developing nations. As I try to get all our quality assurance records up to date for this harvest year I wonder whether consumers will demand the same QA standards from these nations? I fear not. Such imports will simply serve as a threat for buyers to drive down our prices further, much as they have with Black Sea wheat. *
Spring beans were about average but winter beans a big disappointment in Worcs, says Jim Bullock.