Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Bradshaw on beet yields surprise

Cambridgeshire-based Philip Bradshawgrows cereals, sugar beet and potatoes on about 300ha (740 acres) fenland and other soil types from Flegcroft Farm, Whittlesey

We are pleased with the results from our first sugar beet lifting. About half the crop was lifted on a rainy mid-November morning and temporarily clamped. Much has been delivered and with sugar contents averaging 19.5%, the yield should be around 60t/ha.

Given the poor establishment following an over-wintered stubble, it is better than we dared hope for. I will have to be vigilant with wheat bulb fly next year which may have enjoyed the areas of bare soil for egg-laying over this summer.

Unfortunately, the rain made the top of the soil very wet, and the plough had to be used to bring some dry soil up, which then needed further cultivation and consolidation before drilling the following wheat crop.

Storms and winds have been commonplace, holding up a few outstanding lime/fertiliser spreading and spraying jobs.

Lack of weed germination in stale seedbeds means some Atlantis spraying is now needed on wheat, and some OSR is awaiting a further fungicide.

I was fortunate to attend the NFU tenants’ conference at Chatsworth House recently. I normally have a short attention span at such events, but this was a useful meeting, with interesting speakers and plenty of debate in the question-and-answer sessions.

It was clear from listening to other delegates that the wider issues of new entrants and retirement/succession are important. But there are still problems with poor profitability and legislative pressures that need to be addressed.

I was very pleased to see the event was inclusive, with, among others, representations from the CLA and TFA. It has long been my belief that farmer organisations have too much overlap which wastes precious resources.

It is essential that the current spirit of collaboration between them is encouraged and developed.


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