Farmer Focus: 50t/ha sugar beet crops just do not pay

First, I must thank those of you who contacted me offering support and agreeing with my views following my previous Farmer Focus piece – it really is much appreciated.

It certainly has been an exciting and entertaining few weeks, clearly demonstrating to me all that is good – and, undoubtedly, bad – in the farming industry.

Thankfully, the seasons wait for no one and certainly take no notice of Twitter, so life has moved on.

See also: Beet growers reveal the massive yield cost of virus yellows

Sugar beet harvest has, for what it was, been completed and the lighter land is now nicely planted with carrots, onions and potatoes.

Some of it has been prepared for our significantly reduced area of sugar beet. After all, we cannot take the risk of a 50t/ha crop again – it just does not pay.

The heavier land is, of course, a different story. It is still quite wet and might just take a little while to dry.

Fortunately, most of it is destined to be planted with forage maize for the anaerobic digester plant, so there is plenty of time to get it ready.

No doubt this will have to be completed quickly, as it will dry far too rapidly in the drought I expect soon.

Despite the poor start last autumn and the fairly average, but very wet, winter, cereals are looking well, especially now they have received liquid from a digester or solid bagged nitrogen as a top dressing to move them forwards.

Improved conditions have allowed for a good catch-up with the sprayer – hopefully herbicides now have better conditions in which to work.

Another task that has been considerably less onerous this year is the loading of wheat from the stores. The last few loads of feed wheat have moved at more than £200/t.

One might imagine all is well, but, unfortunately, the loss of one-third of the yield is not compensated for by the extra price. With a big reduction in the BPS payment this December, there are a lot of issues still to address and plenty of number crunching to do.

However, with all of that said, the grass is starting to grow, the daffodils are out and the blackthorn is in blossom, so it must be spring – let’s make the most of it.

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