Farmer Focus: Diverse rotation brings volunteer challenge

I am trying my best not to be a stereotypical farmer moaning about the dry weather when chatting to non- farmer friends. I try to explain that two weeks or more of the same weather is not helpful whether that be rain, wind, heat or frost.

I’m also trying not to take it to heart when I hear another weather forecaster say there is a “risk of showers”, or that they are “pleased to say there will be wall to wall sunshine again”.

I must accept that we are in the minority in wanting an end to dry days, and warm dry weather really is perfect for the barbecues and picnics which are now permitted.

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We are discovering that having a much greater range of crops in the rotation presents quite a challenge when volunteers emerge in following crops.

One of our agronomists,Philip Spencer, spent much time on our behalf on the phone chatting to manufacturers about some thorny problems, for which we are grateful.

Millet and borage in a crop of spring rye for example. We turned to grassland products, which also have cereals on their labels I hasten to add, in the form of Leystar (fluoxypyr + clopyralid + florasulam).

It did a fair job, not killing the volunteers outright perhaps, but certainly knocking them sufficiently to stop them competing with the crop.

There are fewer people on the footpaths now as they return to work and school or visit the retail outlets which are opening slowly. One of these, I am pleased to say, is my husband’s garden centre. I think the government allowing garden centres to open was a great decision.

Gardening is good for mental and physical well-being, and my hope is that the many newcomers to fruit and vegetable growing will now have some appreciation of the need for soft refreshing rain at times.

Or will they just join me in swearing at the TV when the beaming weatherman says, “more hot dry days to come”?


Christy Willett farms with son Hew on 475ha at Parklands Farm, Galleywood, Essex, growing combinable crops alongside diversifications into horse stables on DIY livery, industrial and office lets. She is the chair of the Essex NFU.

NOVEMBER
3

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