Farmer Focus : Andrew Peddie 10/12/04

A BETTER SPELL of weather has allowed us to make good progress with remaining fieldwork.

We have sown an acceptable acreage of wheat, but would still like to get another 40 or 50 acres in if we have another window.

Seed rates will be increased to 550/sq m for Riband, which has a good track record for late sowing.

Min till wasn’t possible. Too much regrowth and damage to the surface left ploughing as the only option.

We have always found that min-tilling rape stubbles on heavier land leaves a more consolidated surface, which reduces the slug problem.

We spent a bit more on pellets, with 3kg/ha spread on the stubble before sowing and another 3kg with the seed, and are keeping our fingers crossed that we have done enough.

Winter barley sown on heavy land in the first week of October didn’t like the deluge which followed and some areas will have to be resown.

The moral for next season is to listen to the agronomist and make sure barley is sown in September, even if it means getting someone to do it for us.

The potato market is still very flat, with prices ranging from poor to mediocre depending on variety and quality. This is particularly disappointing considering total available domestic supplies are the lowest for many years.

The picture is worryingly similar to the pig market in the early 2000s when dwindling home supplies opened the door even wider for imported material.

We are beginning to think about next season. The original plan was to replace the 10-year-old Megastar destoner, which, having done 250-300 acres a year, is feeling its age.

But it is difficult to justify (and pay for) the £30,000 asking price for a new model in the current economic climate. So we shall consider all other options.