Arable Farmer Focus: Wheat drilling turns sour for Richard Cobbald

What started off as a good drilling season soon turned wet and miserable, so a larger area of our wheat will be planted in October than had been expected.

We have decided to stick with Oakley as our first wheat choice, with Duxford and Solstice as our second wheat options. Yes, I know two of them are rust prone, but the margins from the varieties are too good to ignore. We will just have to be robust with fungicides in the spring.

A major change in our drilling policy is to increase seed rates by about 15%, for blackgrass competition, but mainly because of the recent dry springs and poor tiller numbers. I want to get the plants in the ground and deal with the canopy accordingly this spring.

It seems word about the high wheat prices has been circulating around the neighbourhood and several friends have remarked about my prospects for new kit and Range Rovers. The old adage “I’ve never seen a farmer on a bike” has been mentioned – and it still sounds just as tedious as it did 20 years ago.

But what people don’t realise is how the supply industry has jumped on the bandwagon and raised its prices. Two years ago, fertiliser prices rocketed off the back of fuel prices, or so they said. What’s the excuse for the present price hike? People in the fertiliser business don’t have the courage to tell us.

Then there is the shambles over flufenacet products. These companies are run by highly-paid business people. It’s a shame they couldn’t respond to demand caused by the announcements out of Russia, encouraging more wheat to be drilled. That all happened at least a month before shortages were suggested. Are these the people that used to run the banks, and when that went belly up, thought ag chems was the next best thing?

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