Farmer Focus Arable: Take all is a worry for Robert Law

All farmers last weekend will have joined with Ricky Ponting’s delight in getting some settled weather for a couple of days to push ahead with their respective tasks.

While we started harvesting wheat at a similar time as last year, the main difference is that we have been able to cut wheat at below 15% moisture, a feat not achieved until 19 September in 2008.

But on our light soils we have been visited by that dreaded trio – rubbish yields, rubbish quality and rubbish prices.

What’s also been apparent in this area is the scourge of take-all. But its severity was predictable after less-than-ideal conditions last autumn and winter followed by extended dry periods in the spring.

Even first wheats have been affected and the specific seed dressings have had their work cut out in trying to control the disease.

The bright areas in this year’s harvest have been the seed crops of forage rape and turnips that we grow. They have turned in yields well above average and, fortunately, they are grown under contract at prices fixed when the rape market was flying.

One 40ha crop of forage rape produced the highest yield we have ever achieved for this crop; and that was despite the seed company for which it is contracted advising me to plough it in after a visit in early March.

We’re now busy sowing, in ideal conditions, stubble turnips on which to finish our remaining lambs and any stores or ewe lambs that we run on later in the year.

It has certainly been an “up horn, down corn” year; and while Frances often grumbles that our mixed enterprises make us “13-months-a-year farmers” this is one year when we’re grateful for having a diverse and varied farming business.

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