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Trevor Horsnell

18 February 2000

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

JANUARY brought a mere 13mm (0.5 in) of rain and some very springlike days. We seem to have had no winter at all and crops are straining at the leash.

It may surprise some readers, but last years rainfall was only average, 540mm (21in) to be precise. However, a large percentage of this fell at key times – potato planting and wheat harvest – with serious financial implications in terms of crop quality and extra drying charges. To cap it all, the wheat we dried and put into store at 15% moisture has acquired an extra 1-1.5% and it is having to be dried again. At least it is blowing the mites out into the yard!

As soon as soil conditions permit we will apply 110kg/ha (88 units/acre) of nitrogen to the oilseed rape, and the same again next month. It has all come through the winter well, though the field we broadcast into the standing wheat has suffered a bit more leaf death. That is perhaps due to the straw and it will also need treating for cleavers as it is our worst field for the weed. One of the other fields has quite a few poppies but here we will swallow our pride and save the money. In doing so we will be able to follow Tony Blairs advice and diversify, charging artists and photographers to come and record the expected blaze of colour.

Just to make sure we reach all possible markets, we shall advertise on the internet and probably in the Gay and Lesbian Times as well. Maybe Cadburys could come and do a remake of the old "Flake" advertisement, or perhaps after the events at last weeks NFU conference for "Flake" you should read "êclair".

Speaking of which, well done Birgit Cunningham for briefly lifting the doom and gloom of the proceedings. However, I doubt her direct action would have generated quite so much media attention but for the fact she is female, pretty and apparently has something of a colourful past.

Untreated poppies in oilseed rape should put a bit of colour back in the Essex countryside this summer and earn some alternative income, says Trevor Horsnell.

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Trevor Horsnell

6 August 1999

Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

LAST years wet and delayed harvest means the 1999 service is running slightly late in Northumberland.

Frustrating enough as it is, it is made worse by the internet predicting a wheat harvest to be wrapped up within two weeks. Geography means a later harvest for us but as long as we get the right weather, at the right time, it is not a burden; simply three weeks longer each year to feed our stomach ulcers and play with our worry beads.

Our combine is ready to go and a specially adapted header for picking up oilseed rape has been fitted. In this part of the world desiccation does not occur au naturel so swathing is the normal practice. However, glyphosate has never been cheaper and some have shifted to spraying rather than swathing.

My decision to buy the header is aimed at getting some extra contract work for the combine at a time of the year when we are not too frantic. With current low prices some may be considering dropping the crop, but I feel it is the one broadacre crop where prices can bounce very quickly.

The building conversions are just about finished and we have just the tarmac to put in place. Not by dodgy men, with thick regional accents in transit vans with a free load of tar "from a job on the A1", I hasten to add. Opening is planned for Sep 17 and I have written to the non-shuffled Rt Hon Nick Brown to do the honours. I eagerly await a response.

One of our new tenants has a catering facility on-site and so we have decided to mark national beef day, Aug 1, with a barbecue.

As an ex beef farmer I find this rather ironic since the building was once a cattle-shed. Now it is filled with all sorts of exciting businesses, including the caterers.

Next time I write, my new yield meter on the combine will be tried, and hopefully tested, by some heavy crops.

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour is manager for

GosmereFarm Partners at

448ha (1107-acre) Gosmere

Farm, Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under the

Countryside Stewardship

scheme

AFTER the hot weekend of July 17-18 we started cutting oilseed rape on the Monday morning.

Yields are only average at 3.3-4/ha (27-32cwt/acre) and we have had one field less than that. Locally I have not heard of anyone getting excited with the crop and anyone who has paid a high rent on a FBT could be in trouble with the price, especially if they have only got 1t/acre. No doubt some enterprising management consultant or accountant will be holding seminars this winter on How to spread your losses.

We should finish the oilseed rape today, July 30, and move straight into our wheats. The first to go will be some December sown Samoa spring wheat followed by Malacca winter wheat. That variety has looked good all through and if it does as well as it did last year in seed plots then we will sow a lot more this autumn – I have got some C1 in the ground. Peas have started to go off quickly and will come off earlier than usual, as will the winter beans.

Looking forward to the autumn offensive, we have bought a new plough. A Lemken Euro 8 six-furrow replaces the dreadful Overum. That has been a nightmare for three years due to breakages and replacement parts; I was of the impression that the Swedes were good engineers, but not any more. Despite having this new toy we will do less ploughing this year, discing and spraying off rape stubbles before wheat instead.

Our oilseed rape area will be cut next year, possibly increasing pulses. Wheat will be limited to just two milling and two soft feed varieties, bar some Shamrock on seed contract. Originally that was with BDR, but due to the sale of BDRs business to SCATS, perhaps I should say with SCATS. I hope that does not make a mess of it. Hereward, as the only fully recommended class 1, has to be included alongside Malacca, and the softs will be Consort and Claire.

Jim Bullock

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

OVER a week without rain has been a real joy, allowing us to harvest oilseed rape and winter linseed with a minimum of drying.

Not only does it save money, but, more importantly, time.

Goodness knows how you harvest linseed in a wet year. Even in last weeks ideal conditions as soon as the sun set it wrapped on just about anything on the combine header. Half the crop was desiccated with diquat and the rest with glyphosate to see which was most effective. With temperatures in the 80s and drying winds there was little difference in "harvestibility", but the glyphosate has dealt with any remaining weeds more effectively.

To date the most exciting outcome of harvest is that our top yielding crops, both of oilseed rape and winter linseed, were established using no-till drilling.

The no-till rape crop produced 4t/ha (32cwt/acre). Next best was the ploughed and cultivated area at 3.5t/ha (28cwt/acre) and the poorest was where we had minimally cultivated. In this case we drilled before all the volunteers and weeds had chitted and it only managed 2.6t/ha (21cwt/acre). The lesson has to be that if you do not have time to create a stale seed-bed that can be sprayed off effectively before drilling, it is better to no-till drill or plough and cultivate.

On the linseed the no-till drilled area yielded a staggering 20% more than where we ploughed and cultivated. But even with this increase, the yield is still only 1.25t/ha (10cwt/acre).

These are one-off, single-site, results. But if we can match our conventional yields using the no-till system the technique has a lot going for it. Looking at the cost and time savings involved I know which we will be doing this autumn.

Wheat harvest started at the end of last week, with some Hereward that had burnt up coming in at about 7.5t/ha (3t/acre). That is 10 days earlier than last year, and the moisture was already down to 12%.

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

JUST 6mm (0.2in) of rain in July and some scorching winds has seen irrigators going flat out and combining fitted in between moves.

What I thought was going to be a late start to harvest has turned out to be just the opposite.

On July 17 the combine tentatively entered a very green strawed crop of Gaelic, a full week earlier than last year. Grain moisture was surprisingly low, at 12%, and, after last years disappointing crop, yield was satisfactory at 9.1t/ha (3.7t/acre). The high specific weight of 73kg/hl means it will make good feed for the cattle.

Having tried all methods of harvesting oilseed rape in the past I much prefer to direct combine, using glyphosate only around the headlands. It does require a bit of patience, the right variety, and a clean crop. But it produces the best results with little risk of crop loss due to shedding or too many red immature seeds.

This years crop has averaged 3.6t/ha (29cwt/acre), which, although up on last year, is disappointing as the bulk was Pronto. But a side-by-side yield comparison with Contact showed the hybrid to be producing an extra 0.6t/ha (5cwt/acre). At current prices that more than justifies Prontos place next year, especially as we will have to buy all our seed anyway.

I sometimes wonder why we bother escorting our combine on the road. Most oncoming car drivers do not seem to take a blind bit of notice of the escort vehicle complete with wide load sign. They only slow up when faced with a near metre-wide combine tyre in the middle of their windscreen. Like Michael Schumacher, I, too, found my brakes a little wanting recently when I encountered someone on a bend driving like the Ferrari ace himself. The combine and I ended up slightly entangled in the hedge. Like most farmers, I always pull over to allow traffic to pass; It would be nice to be shown the same courtesy in return once in a while.

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Trevor Horsnell

16 April 1999

Brian Hammond

Brian Hammond is farm

manager for Carnreagh

Farms at the 182ha (450-

acre) Ballyalloly Farm,

Comber, Co Down where he

grows 50ha (125 acres) of

potatoes as well as cereals

and oilseed rape

MARCH brought just 35mm (1.4in) of rain, less than half of normal for the month, and bright sunshine with a drying wind between the showers. That allowed us to complete the potato harvest on St Patricks Day (Mar 17).

We finished up with nearly twice the tonnage expected. Clearly I had underestimated the area left to lift. No matter how we tried it was impossible to get a clean sample off the harvester, and most of the potatoes needed to be graded twice; Firstly to get rid of the clay and then to pick out the rest of the rubbish. All in all we filled 900 1t boxes off the field, but I suspect the potato tonnage is far short of that.

After levelling out the ruts, we ploughed the fields in readiness for planting spring barley. The furrows thrown up were definitely not for the faint-hearted but a combination of sun and rain plus two passes with the power-harrow have produced excellent seed beds. We finished drilling this years varieties, Riviera and Century, at the end of last week at 138kg/ha (1.1cwt/acre).

All this years potato crop will be 20 miles away at Seaforde, on some rented ground. We have been busy spreading 5,000t of muck, which took just seven days with the help of contractor John OHare and his JCB shovel, two Rotaspreaders and our own Samson spreader. A request to the unidentified farmer who donated several extra loads to the muck pile: Please remove the concrete blocks next time.

Winter cereals and oilseed rape have improved dramatically in the past week with the warmer weather. Apex oilseed rape has had 158kg/ha (126 units/acre) of nitrogen in two splits and is just coming into flower now. Cereals had 70kg/ha (56 units/acre) in mid-March.

Chlormequat is due on both winter wheat and barley and will be tank mixed with manganese. Then we will start our fungicide programme which will probably be Amistar (azoxystrobin) based.

Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

THE farm is sown up. Spring peas, wheat and barley are all in and I feel they have had a reasonable start. February sown winter wheat looks well too and will probably be managed similarly to the spring wheat, Chablis.

So, as Alan takes a holiday, we are looking ahead to the coming season. There are limitations due to the difficult autumn but all in all it could be a lot worse. Then again, Im a born optimist.

Taking this positive frame of mind to the extreme, I have taken the decision to dive into the combine market. After several years without our own machine we are buying an R-reg Class Lexion. Prices have fallen significantly in recent years and the opportunity to use this machine across the parish with mixed-farming neighbours is justification enough.

I have been extremely lucky with the service from the contractor who we have used, but a change of base for him makes the logistics more difficult and this added weight to my decision to do it ourselves. It is interesting that as one Farmer Focus writer, Justin Blackwood (Arable, Apr 9), sells his machine to go to contractors, under similar economic pressures we are going the other way.

Since the middle of December the farm has been a big building site. The new business units and pond are nearly finished and funding is in place. I am reminded that raising capital is not always easy on a tenanted farm so I am grateful that a deal was struck and look forward to new tenants moving into their custom built premises.

Wet holes in and around some of our arable fields tempt me to investigate the drains, but we may be better to leave it a season before disturbing drainage systems that were fine before 1998.

Finally, I have decided to take up the free advisory visits for organic conversion, and the NFU risk assessment team. Watch this space for their findings!

Jim Bullock

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

JUST when we think we have got up to date with all our spraying and top dressing, our agronomist tells us that he has found pollen beetle on the oilseed rape and pea and bean weevil in the beans; Pests I hadnt even thought about yet!

Travelling to put on sprays and fertilisers has not been easy so far this spring. Despite the soil surface appearing dry, underneath it is still absolutely saturated. In places we have tramlines that will need a JCB to level them after harvest. Another accolade for the No-Till system: those fields have travelled well with hardly a mark in the tramlines.

Wheats have all had Adjust (chlormequat) growth regulator and any untreated grass weeds have been sprayed with Cheetah (fenoxaprop-P-ethyl). We will leave the broad-leaved weeds until we apply a fungicide at GS32. Oilseed rape has had a dose of tebuconazole fungicide, which should have a beneficial shortening effect, and Laser (cycloxydim) where grass weeds were missed in the autumn. Winter linseed has been sprayed with Eagle (amidosulfuron) to control charlock and cleavers.

Our spring workload has just increased with another 68ha (170 acres) recently added to our area. Although most of it was sown with winter wheat and beans when we took it on, there are still about 10-12ha (25-30 acres) that need drilling. That will probably go in to linseed. It is a sad thought that this land was a farm in its own right, providing a family with a livelihood for generations. Now it is just a marginal addition to our business which will hopefully keep us going for a few more years. A sorry sign of the times.

The ACCS debate seems to rumble on and the "antis" are becoming more forthright in their condemnation. My own feeling is that we should make the present system work. The last thing we want is a scheme set up by government, who would probably include members of inappropriate organisations as verifiers.

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

AUTUMN 98s legacy will be with us for many months yet to come I fear. We are finding soil conditions the worst for several years and much patience is required to avoid forcing things which we would come to regret later. That is not too easy remembering last Aprils washout.

If I could order my weather for the next few days I would request nice gentle rains on the newly sown sugar beet and the cereals. Where we lifted potatoes in March, and are now trying to force the pug into submission, a couple of stinging frosts would do the trick. For this seasons potato land Sahara-like drying winds are required. However, following my recent lack of communication with "him upstairs", snow is more likely!

Old faithful sugar beet variety Saxon has been superseded by Chorus, and drilling finished on Apr 6. Seed-bed conditions were variable and in places the drill left seed uncovered in the slots it had cut. A pass with the rolls has hopefully sorted that out, but I am prepared for a variable plant population. A low dose of Spectron (chloridazon + ethofumesate) has been applied, as I am a little nervous of relying solely on post-emergence treatments.

I was a little dismayed to find a hole in the middle of the field while drilling where a land drain has collapsed. This is not the only drainage problem we have to rectify and we have already booked 35ha (86 acres) of mole-draining after harvest. Hopefully, that will cure most problems. The farm is not generating enough profit to replace ageing tile-drains.

However, we seem to be generating ever-larger quantities of paperwork and record-keeping, a situation not helped when I discovered half the farm is in a nitrate vulnerable zone.

Potato planting has started with 5ha (12 acres) of chitted Estima in on some easier land. I fear planting the heavy land is going to be a patience-testing, drawn out affair.

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Trevor Horsnell

15 May 1998

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

I HAVE just sent in my entry for the local "deepest tramline of the year" competition.

Aprils 100mm of rain and pushing on with spraying and top-dressing is going to make a rough ride for the combine driver this year.

With high disease pressure in the wheats I thought it important to get the GS32 fungicide on regardless of soil conditions. Judging by the trails of mud on the roads I was not alone. At home the land carried the tractors well but on some undrained rented land it was necessary to resort to a four-wheel drive tractor on the sprayer and a good pressure wash afterwards.

Fungicide mixtures used were based on Epic (epoxiconazole) with the addition of either Amistar (azoxystrobin) or Bravo (chlorothalonil) and Sportak (prochloraz) or Unix (cyprodinil) where eyespot was present. Starane (fluroxypyr) was added to the mix in most cases, as we seem to have the strongest crop of cleavers I can ever remember.

Spraying was completed on Apr 24 and by May 8 we had started again with the flag leaf spray on the Soissons.

Potato planting recommenced on Apr 30 after a months delay. The earliest plantings are now emerging and have been sprayed with PDQ (diquat + paraquat) and linuron. The heavy land at home is having to be moved with the bed-tiller ahead of the destoner to dry it out and mix in the weeds. If we can get finished by the middle of the month I do not think we will have lost too much yield and, I hope, a smaller crop nationally wont do prices any harm.

We are using the FAR technique (Phenmedipham + Activator + Residual, a low-dose programme) for sugar beet herbicides this year and have made three applications to date. It seems to be working well, but unless the crop starts to grow a bit quicker we may need a few more applications.

The combine driver is in for a rough ride this summer, says Essex farmer Trevor Horsnell. Disease pressure on wheat at GS 32 justified making ruts, he believes.

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Trevor Horsnell

20 March 1998

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

IT IS with some reluctance that I have sent my application to join the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme.

In the context of current "food scares" I agree there are areas that need tightening up, in some situations.

But I feel it is a bit of an insult to my integrity as a farmer to have to pay out money to someone who has been on a two-day course just to be judged as to whether I am fit to farm.

I once saw a sign on the back of a toilet door which read "the job is not complete until you have done the paperwork". How true it seems in farming today. I have been busy designing all manner of new recording sheets to satisfy the ACCS and there is a distinctly bemused look on the faces of the farm staff each morning as I emerge from the office clutching yet more sheets for them to fill in.

As we are working through the Tesco "Natures Choice" audit we now have, in addition to our normal spraying records, an instruction sheet which I sign and give myself and then a confirmation sheet which I sign and return to myself after Ive completed the job.

About the only thing it seems that we dont record is the colour of the operators underpants.

Getting back to the field work, we are applying the balance of the nitrogen to the rape giving a total of 200kg/ha (178 units/acre) for the Arietta and 220kg/ha (196 units/acre) for the Pronto.

No nitrogen has yet been applied to the majority of the cereals. I think too much nitrogen too soon could pose serious lodging risks. We are again using Extran as it spreads so evenly through out Amazone spinner.

We have our own tray test equipment and once spent two full days unsuccessfully trying to get the spreader set correctly for imported ammonium nitrate which looked and spread like damp sugar.

Bad memories of imported ammonium nitrate mean Trevor Horsnell is now an Extran man. Enthusiasm for ACCS membership is less clear-cut.

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Trevor Horsnell

20 February 1998

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

THERE was definitely an air of spring in the air last week, which probably means that come the middle of March we will be in the grip of Jack Frosts icy fingers.

I have just returned from my much needed annual holiday (two weeks in the rain forests of Costa Rica and a few days in the urban jungle of Mexico City) to find the farm well looked after in my absence and the land drying out rapidly and more than fit to take a tractor.

While soil and weather are so good we are applying 70kg/ha of nitrogen to the rape and 0.5 litres/ha (0.4pt/acre) of clopyralid (Dow Shield) to fields which have mayweed or thistles present.

The Dutch Desiree potato seed I mentioned last month arrived bang on time and correctly graded into 5mm bands.

Like a lot of other seed potatoes these days, it is infected with rather more silver scurf than I would like to see. In a bid to get better control of the disease in our crop we have decided to use fenpiclonil (Gambit) at planting. To achieve this we are fitting a sprayer to the planter.

The final sugar beet yield was a slightly disappointing 57t/ha (23t/acre). Average sugar content was 18%, but fell from 19.3% to 16.8%.

Unseasonably high temperatures during November and December, combined with an over abundance of green material in the clamp due to difficult topping conditions, were the prime causes of this costly fall. Next season we intend to fit some ventilation stacks into the clamp.

Financial figures for the crop are also not what they were either. Well, at least I am sure I will be paying less for sugar in the shops. Maybe I will even get a rebate because I paid too much for sugar last year.

But then maybe Bill Clinton really is telling the truth. &#42

Trevor Horsnells potato seed arrived in fair order, apart from a bit of silver scurf.

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Trevor Horsnell

23 January 1998

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

THE twelve days of Christmas this year gave us 55mm of rain and a full reservoir. That is the earliest we have ever completed filling and comes as a welcome relief after last year when it was only quarter-filled.

We recorded a total of 470mm of rain in 1997, which is about 80mm below our average.

Santas sleigh also brought our IACS cheque, although a fair proportion of it seems destined for the Chancellors pocket.

Life is a bit stressful at the moment trying to get things organised – especially income tax – before going on holiday at the weekend. Does anybody know if valium is tax deductible? I could tell you what I think of the person who dreamt up self assessment, but it is unprintable.

Our first 150t of Desiree potatoes have now been loaded out of the cold store. They were held at 2-2.5C without chemical sprout control and are destined for Tescos shelves. The price is £50/t higher than last September, so we shall more than cover our electricity costs, which work out about 35p/t per month of storage.

Seed potatoes are giving us our usual hassles. Piper seed from Scotland ordered split graded arrived unsplit and Estima from Shropshire ordered for December have yet to appear. They should have been trayed up by now.

So it is with anticipation we await the arrival of 40t of Desiree seed from Holland. Our agronomist gave glowing reports when he inspected the crop in the field and store.

Indeed, our buying group went to great lengths to draw up an extensive seed specification, with four copies for each order last year. It will be interesting to see if the Dutch can interpret our instructions any better than those who are supposed to speak the same language as us! &#42

Tax returns give Trevor Horsnell grief in the farm office, while poor service from British seed potato suppliers adds to his worries in Essex.

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Trevor Horsnell

31 October 1997

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

HOW much easier life would be in the autumn if I could gaze into my crystal ball in August and forecast the weather.

At the risk of becoming a weather bore, I am convinced there are now only two types here in Essex – very dry or very wet. September produced just 3mm (0.1in) of rain, one of our driest ever months. But it never fails to amaze me just how little rain it can take to transform our seed-beds from concrete-like clods, which stubbornly resist the best attentions of any cultivator, to a state that can be best described as sticky toffee pudding.

50mm (2in) of rain in early October has been more than enough to effect this transformation.

With potato harvesting occupying us for much of September I like to leave ploughed land as rain-proof as possible so that if it is too wet to lift potatoes we can often still drill.

We simply plough, roll and leave nature to take its course. Whenever we indulge in recreational tillage and power harrow behind the plough, monsoon-like rains surely follow. I am not afraid to admit I got it wrong again this autumn and this policy has resulted in cereal drilling not starting until Oct 9.

Main cereals this autumn are again Gaelic, Riband, Soissons and a reduced area of Brigadier. Reaper is being tried with a view to replacing Brigadier next year. We also have smaller areas of Abbot and Charger.

Most of our seed is home produced. TGW checks revealed values of 40-46gm enabling us to reduce the quantity dressed by about 20% to what we might have done otherwise. The aim was to sow 350 seeds a sq m, but this has been increased to 375.

Potato harvesting has been hampered by desert conditions and the need to take several steps to prevent bruising. We have a new refrigerated box store for much of this years crop which meant buying another 1000 boxes. Kit form ones saved us over £8000, but unfortunately they do not put themselves together.

The last 200 had to be finished in September, occupying time which might have been spent bashing clods about and drilling, so that now we, too, might have had some of the patchy wheat that seems fashionable at the moment.

What a difference a few weeks makes. Most of Ian Browns oilseed rape was sown in early August.The thin patch went in towards the end of the month.

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