Farmer Focus Arable: Harvest begins slowly for Will Howe

Harvest has got off to a slow start here. Neighbours have cut their oilseed rape, peas and large portions of wheat, but I have still been battling with the green stems on the rape. Luckily, the new combine has an insatiable appetite, so progress will be quick once conditions allow.

The new cultivation train is working well, ably assisted by ideal ground conditions. With work rates on a par with last season despite being an extra half metre wider and towing an additional press, I am delighted. All we need is for the blackgrass to emerge for a pre-drilling dose of Roundup.

With the benefits of laser pilot on the combine becoming immediately apparent, namely being able to eat a proper lunch with a knife and fork while still working, I have bought an auto-steer kit from John Deere to put on the tractors. I hope this will increase work rates and lower costs, and more importantly, keep my working lands straight and parallel when I dive into my lunch bag.

Although harvest progresses slowly, the impending house move is coming on apace. We are hoping to move in at the end of the month, which will mean I am excused removal duties in order to concentrate on rape drilling.

Hopefully, because we project-managed the build ourselves we will have saved enough to cover the shortfall in grain price from my early selling. A month or two ago I was smug, having sold a proportion of grain for £100/t as it looked a good price. That smug feeling has since been replaced by a feeling of extreme nausea.

But with the current prices my average price is destined to be at least £20/t higher than I had anticipated, so I might have enough spare to get a GPS kit for the garden tractor.

• Read more from Will Howe here.

• See our other Arable Farmer Focus writers.

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