16 August 2002

Spotlight on FWs midlands barometer

Richard and William Hemus had to make to make vital decisions on what to cut at Wheatcroft Farm, near Nuneaton, Warks, earlier this week.

Despite having 215ha (530 acres) of winter wheat on the 385ha (950 acre) all-arable unit, the brothers took the 35ha (86 acres) of Espace and Carlton peas for seed first.

Espace was cleared by Monday, yielding an "appalling" 2t/ha (16cwt/acre), but Carlton was coming off much better at 5.5t/ha (44cwt/acre) midway through the 16ha (40-acre) crop.

"The Espace suffered with severe water logging earlier in the season which knocked back its potential greatly."

Claire wheat, again for seed, will follow the peas through their own combine then a contractor will be brought in to help clear the rest of the wheat.

Bar the Espace peas, harvest has been very successful so far for the Hemuses. Winter oilseed rape was cleared in the nick of time last Wednesday with an overall yield of 4t/ha (1.6t/acre), beating the farms average.

"No sooner had we finished cutting when it started to rain. We even had to sheet the last trailer load of rape to get back to the farm.

"Hybrid Disco yielded really well averaging 4.5t/ha (1.8t/ha), but the Recital let us down. I dont think it was a varietal difference, but more due to the condition of the soil.

"Some of the Recital was put in after set-aside that we just scratched the surface with and it did not do well at all due to waterlogging."

Disco was tougher to combine as the stems were much thicker than the Recitals, he adds.

"It was left to ripen naturally, and while the pods and seeds were ripe enough, the stems were just too fleshy and green."

Atalja Italian ryegrass, off 13ha (32-acre), yielded an estimated 1.8t/ha (4.4t/acre), again above the farms long-term average.

"We were very pleased with its yield, although combining proved difficult. The rain kept throwing up new growth, leaving a lot of fresh greenery in the crop."

But the residual hay crop was better as a result, he says. "It is not as old and tough like it normally is."

The Hemuses are now desperate to get on and cut the Claire seed crop, followed by Malacca, grown for milling, and Consort, all of which are looking very black.

"If we cant start the Malacca soon we will lose the Hagberg and the extra nitrogen applied will have been wasted."