Farmer Focus: Biblical rain but a sparsity of slugs

Forget politics, the main story is the abundance of rain and the lack of drilling, although we have managed a couple of days in the past month thanks to having some lighter land.

When I finally plucked up the courage to check our weather station to see how much we’ve actually had, the total seemed even more extraordinary than expected.

It was claiming we had experienced a metre of rain in one hour – no wonder it’s a bit sticky!

See also: Why one grower went organic to tackle blackgrass problem

Given their exasperation with my constant weather moans, I thought it worthwhile to ruthlessly interrogate the children regarding possible incidents involving the nearby hosepipe – but so far they have kept straight faces.

Another apparent anomaly is the lack of slugs in this incredibly wet autumn compared with the major problems we had following last year’s incredibly dry summer and kind autumn drilling window.

Unfortunately, although the wheat and barley we have planted are now up, some of the pre-emergence sprays we have eventually applied can’t even really be described as peri-emergence, so we’ll have to see how this pans out.

Luckily next week is forecast dry – although it has been for the last month.

Has Mother Nature somehow contrived, possibly with the agronomists, to severely delay drilling in the first year without Deter seed dressing?

I have bought some aphid water traps from Fera to put in our wheat fields and, provided they are not washed away, will send off the contents to be analysed for both species of aphid and whether they are carrying Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus. What fantastic technology.

It is great to hear that we will be able to grow a BYDV tolerant wheat for the first time next year, but somewhat frustrating that the genetic potential has been around for 20 years, and incredibly frustrating that it will come at a premium price worked out as being equivalent to the cost of Deter seed treatment and a spray.


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