Farmer Focus: Winter sowings are often waterlogged for Philip Reck

The rain continues to fall, and fall it does. As I write another inch has dropped today and the land is re-saturated – if that’s possible. Any winter seeding that’s been completed locally is waterlogged in places. The ground badly needs some time to dry out.

We finished harvesting on 27 September, with some of the wheat having the distinction of being in the ground for over a year.

Although combining days were short, a brief period of warm dry weather allowed us to finish the wheat and cultivate the oilseed rape stubbles which had remained untouched since July.

These were drilled with Saffron winter barley at 140kg/ha. The seed was dressed with Redigo Deter (prothioconazole + clothianidin) which has kept the slug population at bay.

Now that the crop’s beginning to emerge, slug pellets will be applied to prevent the emerging seedlings from suffering any damage. The dressing will also reduce the need for a second aphicide – one insecticide tank-mixed with the second herbicide will be sufficient.

I was half-way through applying pre-emergence herbicide Firebird (flufenacet and diflufenican) and IPU (isoproturon), but came to an abrupt halt when ground conditions deteriorated. Hopefully the forecast dry spell will allow the remaining area to be sprayed and keep the programme running according to plan.

Half our planned acreage of Barra winter oats is also planted but a prolonged dry spell will be needed to complete it. If stubbles dry out enough we intend to direct drill the rest. The technique will be an important part of our future crop establishment to help reduce costs.

Grain prices have been falling slowly since harvest leading to apprehension concerning autumn plantings. Volatile markets are making cropping decisions difficult. Increasing costs coupled with reduced returns make crop budgeting essential in any arable business.

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