Farmer Focus: Cropping plans finalised as rain halts harvest

The “off-and-on” harvesting conditions that we have been experiencing has concentrated our minds on next year’s cropping plans, which are now crystalising as our end markets produce contracts for 2018.

At the Royston end it’s another disappointing year for the forage rape and stubble turnip crops that we produce for seed, due to the ongoing issues we have been having with flea beetles.

This means that we are going to seriously reduce the acreage that these crops occupy for 2018.

To replace this acreage we are going to increase our sugar beet and reintroduce peas (again). The balance will be taken up with land let for potatoes and pigs, along with the area used for hosting the Cereals 2018 event.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

The choice of cereal varieties will remain relatively unchanged – for wheat we will continue to concentrate on soft varieties, growing Zulu, Monterrey, Bennington and some Crusoe for seed.

On the barley front we will be continuing for about the 13th year on a policy of all Carat, as required by our end-user.

This year’s deviation into growing some seed hybrid barley will not be repeated. While this crop looked excellent throughout the growing season, the harvest results were desperately disappointing, yielding way below the Carat and half what the hybrid rye crop in the next field achieved.

Oats, both here and on the Nottinghamshire sandland farms, will be Mascani, with the Royston crop going to Jordans Ryvita while the Notts crop goes for seed.

The rye acreage will remain similar, with the hybrid Mephisto being grown for milling and seed, while other varieties will be grown for seed with potential outlets for AD production and Forage.

Gove’s farming vision

I listened with interest to Michael Gove’s vision on future farming policy. Unsurprisingly, there was an emphasis towards the environment, indicating where future support may be directed.

To implement such policies will require a vehicle to deliver them and the agencies are under-resourced to deal with the present schemes and policies.

While we have the environment to consider, let us not forget that farmers are primarily food producers.


Robert Law farms 1,700ha on the Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex borders growing cereals, mustard, a range of forage crops for seed, sugar beet, up to 200ha of catchcrop stubble turnips and 300ha of grass supporting a flock of 2,500 ewes. All land farmed is in environmental stewardship schemes. He also manages 500ha of sandland in Nottinghamshire.