Arable Farmer Focus: Will Howe delays oilseed rape drilling

A friend in need is a friend indeed. So, with a sense of moral superiority, I agreed to a day’s combining to help the workload of a 25-year-old Dominator at a friend’s farm.

Just to set the scene, this machine looks like something out of a Mad Max film and sounds like a throaty Spitfire, courtesy of a missing piece of pipe linking the exhaust to the silencer.

We set off to much fanfare and clouds of dust only for disaster to strike – a two-hour breakdown. This would not have been too serious other than the old monstrosity was still rattling and banging along.

First it overtook me, and then more gallingly it lapped me while the driver hung out the cab taking pictures and offering me pertinent words of advice and encouragement.

Justice was done when a broken knife bar and puncture stopped the Dominator, only for me to be accused by the fore mentioned driver of industrial sabotage.

Harvest has progressed relatively smoothly, apart from the weather. The Castille rape was a relative disaster, but the Vision and Excalibur made sure that my average remained on par and the wheats were pleasing when the spring and early summer are taken into account.

I still struggle to understand why, whenever I decide to drop a variety before harvest, it turns out to be my top yielder. This has happened three times in five years. So next year I will be dropping all varieties; that should keep the barn full.

I have made the decision to delay rape drilling on an agronomic basis, although it should be drilled by the time you read this.

The late rain led to a sudden weed flush in the wheat stubbles, which was then covered by a mat of chopped straw covering up 2-3 leaf blackgrass and cranesbill. So I am waiting for a dose of pre-drilling Roundup (glyphosate) before planting. Let’s hope the weather doesn’t break too soon.

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