Avoiding the rain on Salisbury Plain

Martin Smart has got four combines out dodging the showers at P & J Awdry and Son’s Ashton Farms, Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

“I’m spraying off rapeseed in the middle of Salisbury Plain, while the combines are out fighting annoying showers all over the place.”

One farm had 42mm of rain last night, while another was able to cut rapeseed at 15% moisture today (3 August), and yet another cutting at 10% moisture, said Mr Smart.

“It is just changing all the time. We’re just going to have to keep chipping away at it.”

So far the team had cut 100ha of the 607ha of rapeseed, with varying results. “A lot of it is only just fit – some really needs another three weeks yet.

“Yields are well down on last year, with Grandia and Excalibur at 3.2-3.5t/ha. Anything that is lodged isn’t yielding as well, while those that are thinner and more open are yielding better.”

In a trial of 12 rapeseed varieties, all sown at 50 plants a square metre, the latest counts ranged from 13 to 37, said Mr Smart.

“The weights were quite high, even where plant counts were low, so they have compensated well.

“We’ve got so many different varieties at so many different growth stages, it will be interesting to see how it all yields.”

After the rapeseed would come the winter wheat, which didn’t look brilliant, he added. “The Crusoe looked a million dollars to start with, but after all this rain there are a few blind sites and shrivelled grains.

“Santiago and Relay are still very green, while the Oakley looks scorched. But I don’t think we can make varietal decisions based on this year – it’s been anything but normal.

“You can do all you can with your management, but eventually nature takes over.”

Crop: Oilseed rape
Varieties: Grandia and Excalibur
Area: 100ha
Yield: 3.2-3.5t/ha


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