Farmer Focus: Philip Bradshaw has big variations in first sugar beet yields

Our autumn drilling has progressed well considering the challenging season.

Soil conditions seem to have changed from dry to very wet, and back again very quickly so flexibility has been the order of the day.

Oilseed rape drilled slightly later than usual is growing well, although a mild spell would be useful. The new season’s crop management is in full swing but windy days are putting pressure on spraying schedules.

Our KWS Seeds demonstration plots drilled well, the small quantities of each variety coming in 25kg bags. I needed the exercise, but the time lost putting them into our big Vaderstaad drill hopper reminded me how much time we’ve saved since we began using big bags about 15 years ago.

My first sugar beet has been lifted and delivered. Of the two fields harvested, one yielded about 10t/ha more largely because the sugar content was almost 2% higher so increasing the adjusted yield on which we are paid. This is a soil type influence that I should be able to exploit more with our reduced acreage for next year.

In principle I support the proposed merger of Centaur Grain and Grainfarmers to create the farmer-owned business Openfield.

I’ve marketed through Centaur for some years, and while there will be challenges to make the new business work well, the efficiencies of scale and marketing strength of such a substantial farmer-controlled business should create important opportunities for members.

I wrote earlier of the new Anglian Water pipeline that was planned to cut across my farm at Whittlesey over the next year or so, less than 20 years after the previous such scheme.

Happily, but amazingly after so much planning, site investigation and expenditure to date, the scheme has been shelved – good news for the farm, and my stress level.

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