Farmer Focus: David Shepherdson makes early harvest preparations

Finally we welcomed some rain again, just in time to get the spring oilseed rape moving. But two weeks on and it looks like there has been no rain at all and we are kicking dust again.

The crop rotation for next season is nearly finalised. We could do with a new wheat variety, but nothing is leaping out as a substitute for the Robigus we are currently growing. The other big question is whether or not to bother growing malting barley. With no sensible contracts on offer from the maltsters, the most obvious thing to do is sow the area down with second wheat.

We have had the annual crop assurance scheme farm inspection which went well. It is a lot of box-ticking, but provides the motivation to give the yard an extra polish, though it feels like it is becoming more of a compulsory measure rather than a voluntary scheme to show the standards of production.

The Deutz-Fahr 5670 combine is serviced and just awaiting its final wash-down before harvest. Everything was in order, just a couple of belts and chains to replace. A great feature of this combine is the auto lube system, which eliminates the need to hunt through chaff and dust for dozens of grease nipples on a daily basis. Instead, we just top up the grease tank and it keeps itself lubricated all day long. Simpler, cleaner and more efficient.

The grain store is almost empty with just a couple of loads of wheat remaining to be sold. Selling little and often has proved fruitless this time – a similar price being achieved month after month with no premium after storing the crop for almost 10 months. One thing that stands out on the load receipts is the extortionate charges for weighing the loads – £7.50/load as opposed to £4/load over at the local quarry weighbridge.

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