Farmer Focus: Crops showing signs of stress on light land

June has been yet another busy month and seemed to comprise of many on farm visits and trips away to shows, trial sites and other holdings.

The Royal Three Counties Show at Malvern was our first outing and had particular meaning this year as one of our team members, David Fisher, was collecting his long-service award at the show’s opening ceremony for 50 years spent with Lower Hope Farms.

The Lower Hope Estate owes a great deal of gratitude to David who has seen a lot of change in his time.

I have only headed up our team for a short period in comparison, but in that time David has helped me understand the lay of the land at Lower Hope, particularly when it comes to identifying our variable soil types.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

Cereals was next and was a good opportunity to speak with the precision farming businesses specialising in soil mapping, which is potentially our next step.

It was good to discuss the pros and cons of the various systems and seeing at how it can be financially justified.

Next year’s crop variety selection was also on the agenda and having looked at the winter wheat variety trials I’ve decided to try Reflection.

My only concern is its parentage of Oakley, so we will start only with a small area.

In June I was a guest judge of the Tenbury Agricultural Association over-243ha class and associated enterprises.

In two days we visited more than 10 farms with each farmer proudly showing us the enterprises they had entered into the competition.

This was a very enjoyable experience and an opportunity to meet many interesting people.

I left with a list of tips and good ideas that could help our business.  

On the farm we have started silage making with the good weather making the whole process much easier.

With harvest looming, we have begun machinery and grain store preparation.

Crops still look to have good potential but are starting to show stress on the lighter and shallow soiled areas.

By the time I write my next article we will hopefully be in the midst of harvest.

Jack Hopkins is the assistant farm manager on a 730ha estate in North Herefordshire on predominantly silty clay loam soils. Cropping includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, spring oats and peas, plus grassland that supports a flock of 1,000 ewes and 25 pedigree Hereford cattle.


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