Farmer Focus: Exceptional harvest draws to a close

I made two resolutions at the start of the year: one was not to combine in September and the other was not to drill in November and so far I’m on track to meet both.

Harvest rumbled to a finish on Sunday evening, which was a huge relief as it was followed by 42mm of rain the next day. This was, however, a boost to our recently sown stubble turnips and set us up for grass reseeding and rape drilling.

With every harvest, weather and the seasons always have the ultimate say in what the outcome is, but no more than in this season; everybody I speak to has had an exceptional year.

Interestingly for ourselves and many others there has been little variation in yields across the fields.

And this despite growing cereals on a range of soil types, drilling dates for the same crops differing by more than two months, having both first and second wheats, pursuing different crop protection strategies and, finally, growing a range of varieties for different markets. For these reasons one mustn’t let everything go to one’s head and the temptation to start wearing one’s pants ‘on the outside’ must be avoided! We shall not be making any draconian changes to our cropping plans for 2015. On the wheat front we will be dropping Invicta and replacing it with Zulu. Other wheat varieties will be Crusoe, Istabraq, Consort and Wizard, which best match the markets we grow for. Carat will continue to retain the winter barley slot as Mascani holds the oat position.

My 34th harvest here at Royston must go down as one of the less stressful, although the imminent approach of A2 results day on the 14 August kept us on the edge here at the Thrift. With my eldest off to study land management in three weeks time I suppose I will be having to justify my decisions more than ever in the future!

Right now my mind has turned to thoughts of replacing our six seasons old NH 980, which has cut some 5260ha for us and done sterling service!

Robert Law farms 1,500ha on the Hertfordshire/Essex/Cambridgeshire borders growing cereals, turnips, mustard, forage rape for seed and sugar beet, plus 300ha of grassland supporting a flock of 2,500 ewes. He also manages 500ha of Nottinghamshire  sandland.

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