Simon Wadlow farms 200ha
(500 acres) at The Croft,
near Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
Key crops are winter wheat
and sugar beet, plus winter
oats, barley, oilseed rape
and beans. Forage maize,
set-aside and pasture make
up the balance
YET another month has passed which has been dominated by the weather. We have had 111mm (4.4in) of rain in the last four weeks and planting is still not complete.
Two fields of winter beans were planned, but a drainage problem means only one is planted. We will have to sow spring beans instead. Fortunately the unused seed had only been cleaned and not dressed so it will not be wasted.
The six-row beet harvester came for its second visit on a particularly wet day at the end of Oct. Both fields are on a slope and the lower headlands sustained a lot of soil damage. As a result these will have to be set-aside, taking a 20m (66ft) strip out of the Charger wheat we are now drilling.
As expected, the sugar beet yield has improved considerably since early liftings. Sugar percentage is 1.6% up, giving an adjusted yield of 50t/ha (20.2t/acre). As I said last year, the early delivery bonus is not high enough.
I hope the slug war has been won. Wheat after oilseed rape has been thinned in limited areas but is basically all right, and part of a field of barley had to have an extra half rate of Draza (methiocarb). Otherwise early pelleting and liberal use of the roll have kept on top of the pest.
Unfortunately, on one field where I was a little too enthusiastic with the roll, 5cm (2in) of rain followed and left the headlands sealed with a lot of wheel marks showing. I hope it levels up by spring.
When I started writing this column last year I thought arable farming was on the bottom. Today, as I hang up my pen for farmers weekly, prices are the same or even lower. I have a feeling this really is the bottom of the cycle. I just hope I am right this time.
Some headlands after beet will have to be set-aside, says Shropshire grower Simon Wadlow. Signing off after a year of Farmer Focus writing he now hopes the only way is up for the industry.