Farmer Focus: In the dark over the oilseed rape market

Winter has finally arrived here in Ryedale. Like most of the UK, we’ve had our first proper snow.

I managed to get the oilseed rape sprayed with Bifenox on a frost just before the snow fell and I noticed the Clethodim appears to have done a fantastic job with the grass weeds and volunteers.

The crop is forward, but none the worse for that.

However, I am struggling to get a future value for the 2018 harvest; does anyone really know what’s happening in the oilseed rape market?

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

On the whole, wheat and barley look really well, despite the wet autumn. 

We have probably had enough rain now and could do with a cold snap to allow us to move some farmyard manure.

After that, I’m hoping an early spring will get some semi-drowned wheat moving.

In the meantime, with Christmas a fading memory, we have to get on with the routine of cold and wet, as any farmer with livestock knows all too well.


To break the drudgery this year, we have decided to repair our dryer system — but with it all being outside exposed to the elements, this long-delayed job is no-one’s  favourite.

But this time of year is not all bad, as there are lots of opportunities to learn, and top of the list for me has been the AHBD Monitor Farm initiative.

The speakers we’ve had have been amazingly high quality on a range of topics – soil issues, cultivation practices, fixed-cost analysis – all good stuff.

Where else can you find such interesting, thought-provoking and practical discussion?

And you’ve already paid for it, so if you haven’t yet found your local Monitor Farm, make the effort to look it up; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

While I have been tied up with my dryer system, others have managed to escape the winter flurries by heading inside for this year’s Oxford Farming Conference.

Once again it has provided plenty to talk about. After viewing it online, I did a double-take as the supposed “grim reaper” of agriculture, Defra secretary Michael Gove, blew some sugar in our ears.

He talked about a government that cares about farmers and aims to reduce red tape, supporting high standards, reward conservation and laying a smooth path to Brexit transition.

The future sounds bright – but let’s just wait for the detail.

Richard Wainwright farms 510ha in Ryedale, on the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. With soil types ranging from heavy clay loam to limestone brash, the family partnership grows winter wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape, spring beans and rotational grass leys. The farm also runs a large beef fattening unit.