Farmer Focus: Bill Davey February column

Light rainfall last night gave me a welcome break from the combine cab, which has been my farm office for the past month. We’ve had a good run and are well over halfway through harvest.

Kale seed, as usual, proved difficult to thresh without blocking the drum but we managed not to do that and delivered a pleasing 2.9t/ha of seed to the cleaners. The sample was exceptional and there will be little weight lost once dressed. It is probably our most valuable crop, so we tend to turn a blind eye to its harvesting issues.

Dry conditions continue on the east coast of both islands, with reports of some farmers reverting to shooting stock because they have no feed for them. Admittedly, these are isolated cases, but it puts things in perspective.

Being as dry as it is, we have avoided stubble burning for fear of seeing our name in the papers. But sooner rather than later we shall have to do so to enable us to min-till and sow next year’s ryegrasses.

Meanwhile, flocks of Canada geese and mallard are enjoying gleaning the barley stubbles – our losses and their gain.

White clover is due for its first application of Reglone (diquat) any time now. Desiccation keeps the canopy open, helping to avoid sprouting, and it assists in harvesting.

The crop looks promising and there are plenty of heads, but its yield will really depend on how well the bees did their job.

This season’s area of borage is well back on last year. But it is widely recognised that bees prefer it to almost any other crop and will fly over clover to reach it.

Where the two crops are grown side by side clover yields have suffered markedly because of reduced bee activity.

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