Farmer Focus: Good start with forage rye in the clamps

It’s been a good start to cereal harvest, with forage rye now safely into the clamps before the end of June.

Unfortunately, the cold spring and lack of moisture had a detrimental effect on yield, which is about 10% back on last year. I hope this is not an indicator of what to expect from the wheat and barley.

See also: Why a wheat grower is cutting inputs down to the bare bones

About the author

Andrew Blenkiron
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.
Read more articles by Andrew Blenkiron

When I say we have finished the rye, that’s not quite true.

We have one field, typically right on the side of the main road, that has a reasonable population of extra-high heads sticking up among the beautiful Skyfall wheat.

While I know that growing two or even more crops in the same field is all the rage at the moment, I’m not too sure how separation of these will work.

There are lots of options. We are going to wait and see how much rye is left in the ear by the time the wheat is harvested, although investing in a late nitrogen to boost the grain protein is probably not worth the gamble.

The real challenge is to ensure that the forage harvester doesn’t leave quite as much grain behind.

The beauty of the rye, early carrots and potatoes being cleared is that we can get in with a very early cover crop.

Even on the land where we plan to sow an autumn cereal, that cover certainly acts as a great green manure, if nothing else. 

Conditions have, until now, suited sugar beet and forage maize, with just a few light showers to help with germination and early growth.

The beet, having achieved our arbitrary target of the plants meeting between the rows by Norfolk Show, is now really struggling on warm afternoons.

Most of the plants, especially on the light fields, are lying flat out. This can’t be good for yield potential, and in the past we have seen this lead to a complete loss of leaf.

Maize, on the other hand, is stubbornly ignoring the lack of moisture and roaring away, with only a few areas showing the effects of a bit of compaction.

I hope your combine is ready, because harvest isn’t far away at all…

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