Farmer Focus Arable: £26/t for beet is more profitable than alternative, says Richard Cobbald

I really hope the big NFU/British Sugar price debate can be laid to rest quickly with a solution that will suit everybody.

I have 40ha waiting for temporary tonnage on top of my contract. It is too late to realistically establish oilseed rape, especially in this dry autumn, so if we don’t get the extra tonnage it will be beans, which are significantly less profitable than sugar beet at £26/t.

As a manager of an estate rather than an owner it is difficult to convince the boss, as a businessman, that we should hold out for more from British Sugar when it will provide him with his best margin.

I do back the NFU wholeheartedly in trying to achieve some long-term stability, but I know I am not the only voice of scepticism, or do we have to take a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain. There is also an element of devil’s advocate in what I write but I do believe there are more growers who are thinking along my lines than the NFU realise.

That’s enough of my “soap box” issue for another month. We have made a start drilling Oakley as a first wheat into good but dry seed-beds and have upped seed rates as a result.

The rape continues to defy belief and keep growing despite the parched soil. I think we have more than enough to call a crop, so I am happy with the start of the 2010 harvest year. Bring on the rain and we will all be happy but will have nothing to moan about, unless, of course, we have too much.

PS Any tonnage anyone wishes to give up I will gladly have.

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