Paul Warburton - Farmers Weekly

Subscribe and save

Farmers Weekly from £133
Saving £46
In print AND tablet

SUBSCRIBE NOW

sub_ad_img

Paul Warburton

23 August 2002

Paul Warburton

Paul Warburton farms

208ha (514 acres) of

mostly chalky loam at

North Farm, Shillingford

Hill, near Oxford. He is an

owner-occupier, running

the business in partnership

with his wife Hilary.

Cropping includes feed

wheat, feed barley

and oilseed rape

BLOOD, tears, toil and sweat, particularly the latter two, dealing with a lodged crop of Chablis spring wheat. It is all go and has been for nearly a fortnight but our harvest should be finished by the time you read this.

Fortunately, we had nothing like the rain that the eastern counties have had to cope with. Looking out from our hill, which commands views to Swindon, the Chilterns, Oxford and Farringdon, no less than 19 combines could be seen last Saturday, veiling the county in a haze of harvest dust.

Regina winter barley yielded an acceptable 7.4 t/ha (3t/acre) with small baled straw adding £173/ha (£70/acre). Escort OSR did 3.7t/ha (30cwt/acre), Lutin, the semi-dwarf variety, as expected did about 3.1t/ha (25cwt/acre) but was easier to harvest. Claire wheat has come in very well at about 9.3t/ha (3.75t/acre) across the farm, despite weedy take-all patches in second wheats.

Rural crime paid us a visit last weekend. Uninvited guests broke into the workshop with bolt croppers and took the Honda quad bike, chainsaw and strimmer.

Fearing another visit, we are enhancing protections, all more expense on top of a nasty £500 excess on the bike.

Our local MF dealer, Walter Wilder, has vehicle "tracker" leaflets on the service counter. At £300/item, the cost is hard to stomach but at least one might have the satisfaction of finding ones trusty bike.

And what of the combine after last months mishap? Least said the better – new crank, repairs to the block, an estimated £4000 cost and no firm date to do the work.

Reluctantly I accepted the offer of a Mercedes reconditioned engine for £4500 plus fitting etc. My thanks to Jimmy and Nigel c/o Mill Engineers for their verbal anaesthetics and intensive after-care!

I hope you all have Sept 22 highlighted in your diaries and have made travel arrangements for the Countryside March in London. We must all be seen and counted. Thank you farmers weekly for your editorial support and leaflets. &#42

Harvest is home at North Farm for Paul Warburton with pleasing wheat results and not too bad barley.

    Read more on:
  • News

Paul Warburton

24 July 2002

Paul Warburton

Paul Warburton farms

208ha (514 acres) of

mostly chalky loam at

North Farm, Shillingford

Hill, near Oxford. He is an

owner-occupier, running

the business in partnership

with his wife Hilary.

Cropping includes feed

wheat, feed barley

and oilseed rape

WHAT a month of frustration – 14 days of standstill hay-making due to lack of sun and threat of rain, an unfortunate combine incident, a disappointing Chancellors Spending Review and a £60 fine plus three points for doing the outrageous speed of 37mph in a 30mph limit.

But rising pressure, atmospheric not blood, has permitted another 10ha (25 acres) of hay to be pulled down last week with an above average yield. The only hassle has been two punctures and loss of electrical power on one tractor.

Anticipating a start to harvest, I backed our 1985 Claas 96 combine out of the shed last weekend for a wash off and clean of the cab etc. An unfamiliar bright light on the dash and audible hooter did not deter me from continuing round the corner to the yard. Only having cleaned and vacuumed did I check the manual for lights cause.

Shock horror! It was the oil pressure warning and the hooter is to alert those with poor eyesight! I dipped the sump – no oil. The oil had all leaked out of a perished rubber drain hose, post winter service.

Mill Engineers from Bibury were called, filled the sump and checked the oil pressure. Thankfully OK but they have taken an oil sample to the laboratory to test for metal content.

We await the result, no need to file finger nails in the meantime with a possible bill of £3000 looming if the engine needs attention.

The moral? Dont let the grain/corn-cart/dryer man drive the combine.

The Chancellors Spending review statement was much as expected; the devil in the detail and the jam spread "broad and shallow" tomorrow. In the meantime, the ship continues to take on water.

My neighbours started combining winter feed barley nearly a fortnight ago with yields variable; 5.6-7.4t/ha (45-60cwt/acre).

In the meantime, best of luck to all with harvest. May the sun shine, the days be long and breakdown free, and remember to be considerate to "her indoors". &#42

Fit for harvest, but will the combine be? Paul Warburton is waiting for the results of an oil test on his Claas 96.

    Read more on:
  • News

Paul Warburton

28 June 2002

Paul Warburton

Paul Warburton farms

208ha (514 acres) of

mostly chalky loam at

North Farm, Shillingford

Hill, near Oxford. He is an

owner-occupier, running

the business in partnership

with his wife Hilary.

Cropping includes feed

wheat, feed barley

and oilseed rape

AS we approach harvest, the pace quickens with hours of spraying, shearing, haymaking, orange blossom midge patrols – no threshold breached – and cover crop establishment. All on top of a weeks sailing holiday in very hot and sunny Turkey.

All wheat has had T2 treatments. Claire looks particularly promising; large ears and many of them after 0.5 litres/ha of Comet (pyraclostrobin), 0.4 litres/ha of epoxiconazole and a whiff of Fortress (quinoxyfen) to suppress mildew.

A further treatment of Amistar (azoxystrobin) plus epoxiconazole has gone on the Chablis spring wheat.

Annoyingly, wild oats have appeared in the Chablis which were not seen when spot spraying previously. Now it is too late to treat them.

Our Escort oilseed rape is leaning a bit but looks very promising with large fat pods. On the other hand Lutin is standing better but the smaller pods dont impress.

Making 32ha (80 acres) of hay as conventional bales is not a job to leave to chance. Hence John Watterson, our man from the Farmforce Agency at Hereford, has been checking all the kit over.

As I mentioned some months back, the establishment of various cover crops for the syndicated shoot here accelerates the ageing process. Maize, sorghum, millet and quinoa are not too difficult, but the kale is another matter.

All ones enemies line up for repeated attacks – club root, slugs, flea beetle, hares, rabbits, pigeons. Hopefully diligent husbandry will see a large, leafy green plant in place by Oct 26, the date of the first shoot.

If successful, a planning application by Hutchinson 3G will allow a second mobile phone mast to be erected adjacent to Oranges existing mast on the farm. Combined, these structures yield £9000/year. Despite some screening by trees, I am uncomfortable for such masts to be on the farm. However, drowning men must grab passing lifeboats.

Returning to Gatwick from Turkey there was not a hint of foot-and-mouth precautions – incredible complacency on the part of Customs and Excise, in my opinion. &#42

    Read more on:
  • News

Paul Warburton

3 May 2002

Paul Warburton

Paul Warburton farms

208ha (514 acres) of

mostly chalky loam at

North Farm, Shillingford

Hill, near Oxford. He is an

owner-occupier, running

the business in partnership

with his wife Hilary.

Cropping includes feed

wheat, feed barley

and oilseed rape

JUST 3mm (0.1 in) of rain since Mar 21. I quite expect to see Omar Sharif appearing out of the sunset on his camel.

Despite the desert conditions all the winter crops are coping quite well; early drilling must have helped. Oilseed rape has had 205kg/ha (165 units/acre) of nitrogen and a spray of 1.0litre/ha Caramba (metconazole), 0.1 litre/ha Acymat (alpha-cypermethrin) and 125ml of adjuvant Designer, applied late evening to avoid the bees. Winter barley and wheat has had 125kg/ha (100 units/acre) of nitrogen. T1 spray will have gone on during the week. Spring barley is struggling with only six leaves seven weeks post drilling.

The combine has had its winter service – nothing too serious, odd belt and bearing, new straw chopper blades and "mice in the wiring" repairs. Jimmy from Mill Engineers recommends mothballs as a deterrent.

Like everybody, I am having to face up to some desperately low cereal prices this coming harvest. Not even £60/t in November. To sell forward, trade futures, take options or sit under the stairs, that is the question. The latter is very tempting! At least the oilseed rape price is holding up reasonably.

A well known wheat breakfast cereal in biscuit form retails for about £2 for a box of 48 biscuits. Assuming 90% of the biscuit is wheat, and the grower is paid £85/t for the wheat, that is just 3.5% of the retail price. If the box carried a levy for the farmer of 4p/box, just another 2% on the price, that would equate to £125/t ex-farm. If only life was so simple.

With cereal prices so low, news that the first of our three daughters plans to marry next year caused smoke to billow out of the computer when I ran the forward budget program! Never did I realize the scale and size of the "wedding" industry. Selling a tractor and the combine might just cover it, but how to manage haymaking and harvest without them is a little beyond me at present. &#42

If you put 4p on a box of breakfast cereal, my wheat could be worth £125/t, suggests Paul Warburton.

    Read more on:
  • News

Paul Warburton

12 October 2001

Paul Warburton

Paul Warburton farms

208ha (514 acres) of mostly

chalky loam at North Farm,

Shillingford Hill, near Oxford.

He is an owner-occupier,

running the business in

partnership with his wife

Hilary. Cropping includes

feed wheat, feed barley

and oilseed rape

OUR weeks holiday in Scotland late last month was most welcome – my wife drove, I "farmed" each field as it passed together with part-time map reading, and we passed acres and acres of wheat and barley not cut.

The picture on p69 of last weeks farmers weekly must have brought tears to the eyes of the Scotsmen concerned – 180 combines gobbling up 32ha (80 acres) of French wheat in just 18 mins 14 seconds!

Here in S Oxon, with ever present memories of this time last year, it has been non-stop drilling. Staggered meal times, night oil, min-till techniques and less hopper filling thanks to lower seed rates mean we have only Soissons and spring wheat left to sow. Those will go in from mid-October.

A good start was made in the first 10 days of September but we stopped due to lack of rain. I reasoned it was better to keep the seed in the bag than put it into a very dry, knobbly seed-bed. Patience was rewarded with 5mm of seasonal soft, refreshing rain and two more fields were planted. A further 30mm since has done wonders for the oilseed rape and early sown wheats.

Sadly the grain market is slipping. I was offered £90/t spot for my Soissons, but it is behind the Consort so cant be loaded. Our trader enquired whether my barley would malt. "Not a hope," I said. "Too high in N."

That reminds me of my days in the grain trade in the 1960s working for RHM. During harvest a senior company member came in with a sample of barley and showed it to our buyer George Wickham.

"It is a good sample, George – go for malting."

"No it wont," said George. "It is pinched, cuts steely, has poor colour and shape."

"But George, he is my best customer and he has got his own combine," said the senior company man, believing these to be the key criteria – happy days and a far cry from today. But the barley still went in the feed bin. &#42

    Read more on:
  • News

Paul Warburton

14 September 2001

Paul Warburton

Paul Warburton farms

208ha (514 acres) of mostly

chalky loam at North Farm,

Shillingford Hill, near Oxford.

He is an owner-occupier,

running the business in

partnership with his wife

Hilary. Cropping includes

feed wheat, feed barley

and oilseed rape

HARVEST has come and gone for another year, finishing on Aug 21 on our modest 107ha (265 acres).

Winter barley disappointed at 6.5t/ha (2.6t/acre) plus a meagre 2.5t/ha (1t/acre) of straw baled and carted for sale. Apex winter oilseed rape averaged 3.7t/ha (30 cwt/acre), Soissons winter wheat 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) with excellent Hagberg and protein and the Consort and Savannah varied between 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) and 10.4t/ha (4.2t/acre).

Considering the weather over the past 12 months, overall I would say it was a pleasing result. Our Claas 96 combine completed its 17th season without incident except for needing a new front chopper belt, which seems to go about every 80ha (200 acres). The Opico mobile dryer again scored top marks. American engineering at its best – strong and simple.

Between days of cutting, Chris and I pushed on with ploughing using two Lemken four-furrow reversibles and presses. Power-harrowing followed and farm-saved Escort oilseed rape drilled at 6kg/ha (5.5lb/acre). We sprayed it straight away with Katamaran (metazachlor + quinmerac) at 2 litres/ha, justifying the extra cost over Butisan (metazachlor) in an attempt to combat an increasing and unacceptable level of cleavers in the sample.

Our hectare of semi-dwarf Lutin is also sown at just 3.6kg/ha (3.25lb/acre), the absolute minimum setting on our Accord drill. All the oilseed rape was sprayed for flea beetles last week and slug patrols continue with little sign of them so far.

Attention is now on getting Claire wheat in and as of Monday we have only one field to go. Seed rate is 130 seeds/sq m, about 67kg/ha (0.6cwt/acre), higher than I had hoped but lack of rain made achieving fine seed-beds tricky. However, that is still one-third less than last year, representing a significant saving. Some locals on sandy loams are down to 80 seeds/sq m I gather. Hairy stuff.

Chris, our harvest help, has now left for a permanent job in Wales, leaving me alone to enjoy my own company on the farm and a much needed holiday at the end of the month. &#42

    Read more on:
  • News
blog comments powered by Disqus