Club root prompts cropping change

Farmers Weekly Scottish barometer farmer John Hutcheson’s main cropping move this autumn, as the unit expands by an extra 100ha (250 acres), has been switching to club root resistant oilseed rape variety Mendel.

“We have it on about half the area with Caracas on the rest. Seeing how Mendel has established convinces me that we have probably had low levels of club root taking the edge off yields for some while.”

The winter barley area is up 54% to 165ha (408 acres) to allow next year’s oilseed rape area to rise to take advantage of what Mr Hutcheson expects to be better prices by then.

The key casualty is spring barley.

“The oilseed rape price seems underpinned by biodiesel, so you could argue that on balance higher fuel costs could bring a hidden benefit to farmers.”

On the strength of Scottish Agronomy trials the new winter wheats Alchemy and Predator, plus a small area of Glasgow, have joined Robigus, Consort having been ousted.

“Predator is recommended as a second wheat, and the local trials on ground similar to ours give me the confidence to try it.”

It is worth noting that distillers have been offering three-year fixed price contracts through the Grainco co-op, he says.

“Some people who took them up have even been buying back out after two years, which perhaps reflects a welcome degree of optimism.”