Farmer Focus Arable: David Shepherdson chooses varieties for next year

I was hoping to be able to report on the first results of the harvest. But needless to say, after weeks of dry weather, the mere threat of getting the combine out was enough to bring on the rain clouds.

At least when it does dry up, we know that the barley will be ready to go and we can be sure we have not rushed it.

All the oilseed rape is desiccated; this had to be done in a couple of attempts because of the significant variation in the crop on the hillsides. One field even had to be split into two to ensure the flat part of the field did not get too ripe.

Seed varieties for next season have almost been decided after visiting several crop trials to determine the best ones. My only criticism of the trial sites is that they always use some of the best land in the county. It would be more realistic and informative to see how the crops fare on some more challenging, thinner soils like ours.

The oilseed rape varieties next year will be Excalibur, Compass and Catana. I’ll also be trying a couple of bags of Palace to see if the alleged yield of 129% really exists.

Wheat varieties will be made up of Viscount, Robigus and Scout, with Duxford as a second wheat. How much second wheat we grow will depend on anyone coming forward with a sensibly priced contract for malting barley.

The recent rally in the wheat market has been most welcome and prompted us to sell a couple of loads forward for December. Now that we’ve done that, the price will inevitably rise again, but even if it’s the cheapest wheat we sell this year, then we will already be up on last year’s price.

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