Teddy Maufe farms 407ha
(1000 acres) as the tenant of Branthill Farm, part of
the Holkham Estate, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. Sugar
beet lies at the heart of the
rotation, with other crops
including winter barley,
wheat and oats, spring
barley and triticale
THE weather pendulum has swung right the other way here and after a soaking April we have not had any measurable rain since May 1.
However, at last it has warmed up and the sugar beet are starting to grow and in most areas outstrip the constant attention from birds. You can now see the rows clearly but they are way behind their usual stage, especially considering they were drilled over two months ago.
They have just had their second post-em spray, mainly consisting of either Forte plus Venzar Flo (phenmedipham + lenacil) or Goltix plus Herbasan (metamitron + phenmedipham) depending on weeds present. Mantec was also included to help the transient manganese deficiency. We are just starting to tractor hoe the whole acreage to kill any surviving weeds, remove the weed beet between the rows and to let some air into the soil.
The spring barley has had Coptrel to counter copper deficiency and we are giving our winter barley a late fungicide of Amistar (azoxystrobin) mainly for brown rust.
We are always a growth stage behind up here on the coast with cooler temperatures and frequent sea frets. This often gave us the edge in ultimate malting barley quality but, as I have said before, only nitrogen content, germination and screenings seem to be taken into account now for malting premiums, sadly for us.
In our now constant battle to produce that increasingly elusive factor – a profit – we are chasing down every expense. Two recent successes are fire extinguisher maintenance and cover, where changing to another company has halved our annual expense, and rodent control, where a change to a local company has also halved our contract cost.
The hunt goes on for more savings in other areas.
The weather pendulum is swinging at Branthill Farm. Only 2mm of rain in May after the April deluge has left Optic spring barley desperate for a drink, says north Norfolk farmer Teddy Maufe.