Farmer Focus: Time running out for oilseed rape to germinate

Now I’ve always been an optimist. My glass is always positively brimming even when it’s nearly empty, however after another afternoon adjusting gross margins again and again I’ve decided to scrap the calculator and go back to my old fag paper calculations.


I just don’t like the numbers the calculator keeps throwing up, so a few basic sums and some generous rounding up on sales and down on input costs and it all looks rosy again.


Joking apart, we need to really farm to the best of our ability. Only the highest of yields and most stringent of spending plans will return reasonable profits; it’s all very sobering after a plentiful harvest.


See also: Read more from all our farmer focus writers here


Crops have gone in well. However the lack of rainfall has taken its toll on the oilseed rape, with virtually no rain in September we still have seeds yet to germinate, not to mention a variety of growth stages. This is quite worrying as day lengths are shortening and soil temperatures are dropping and I’m not even going to mention flea beetles as I know there are farmers affected worse than us. Wheat has gone into near perfect seed-beds, albeit completely dried out, but hopefully a good rain will see them off to a flying start.


We were fortunate enough to demo an Amazone Condor drill this autumn and at 15m working width, drilling with this beast was incredible. I easily cleared 40ha in an afternoon travelling at a lazy 10kph, the simplicity of the drill was very refreshing and actually was surprisingly easy to manoeuvre.


We are considering moving from 8m to 12m with our drill to complete our transaction to 12 metres controlled traffic. Originally I wanted to widen our old Simba FreeFlow drill but in reality it’s not quite as simple as I first thought, not to mention it’s approaching 20 years old and is showing signs of its age.


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