A recent headline in the local daily farming supplement read “Fertiliser prices down by 50%” – not in my book!
Nitrogen may be back by about 40% from its peak and phosphates are more reasonably priced, but potash is still three times its previous level. On a straw-selling farm this essential element must be replaced or yields will tumble.
No one on the Potash stands at Crops held out for any hope for major price reductions, so my fertiliser costs are averaging at 50% more than two years ago.
With harvest only four weeks away, here’s a quick guess at crop potential.
Winter barley is six-row hybrid volume and it looks full of promise, with large pickles on long heads. But will it remain standing?
Spring Barley is all quench for malting (if the local mini-malting business ever gets off the ground. It is very thick, but free from disease. This crop was grown with broiler litter at 10t/ha and only 20kg/ha of N applied at tramlines-visible stage. Poor headlands will reduce yield, but overall the crop could well leave the best margin.
Winter wheat looks about average and yields will depend on grain fill, which in turn will depend on sunshine levels. Soil moisture has always been adequate, so no problems there.
Harvesting and straw bailing will be eased as I have forward-sold the headlands (about 5ha) for whole crop. The agreed price is the average yield over the last three harvests at an ex-field value at £115/t for the grain, plus the value of the straw behind the combine, less the cost of harvesting and a 10% discount.
Forage maize has proved difficult. When Atrazine was available weed control was not a problem, but the replacement has failed to take out volunteer potatoes and bindweed, resulting in a second chemical being applied. Hopefully this will have cured the problem.