Farmer Focus: Elderflower season is upon us

I don’t think I will ever learn. Earlier in the year I could be quoted as saying, I had minimal levels of blackgrass. I can I think, claim around 95% control.

However, two leaf blackgrass in January have developed into monster plants carrying a dozen tillers and now its climbing out of the canopy it looks a mess.

Although it looks worse than it is the seed carry over means this time next year, there will be yield losses if we don’t have a change of strategy. Interestingly, we have no blackgrass in our Volume hybrid barley so as a mate said in the pub last night, “we are all going to become barley barons.”

The elderflower picking season is upon us and the recent hot weather has brought the flowers on almost too fast, not allowing them to reach a decent size before they open. We are however finding a higher number of flowers per plant this year hopefully making up for the reduced size.

Normally we just mow around the orchards once to keep the grass down, however it has grown at such a rate a second cut has been needed. I hope the extra flowers and extra grass is an indication of the size of wheat and rape harvest we can expect.

I had a very interesting visit to Garford Farm machinery last week, to look at hooded sprayers for use in wide row rape and hoes for use in cereals.

Add together the accuracy of RTK guidance and the addition of the Robocrop headstock and you have potential for some very accurate interow work, which would also fit in with our controlled traffic farming plans.

Hopefully machines like this will give us some useful additional control of problem weeds.

Ground work started in earnest this month for our new soft drinks factory, five acres of topsoil was stripped in a couple of days with the pads set out and entrance kerbs laid – at this pace it will be up before harvest .

Keith Challen manages 800ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Fruit Farms. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business

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