Farmer Focus: How late is too late to drill wheat?

Being a child of the 1980s myself, a recent Flindt on Friday column really made me laugh.

“Praying for vernalisation” could have been an album title, probably by some ’70s prog rock band or ‘80s indie group, but definitely not “Brit pop”.

However, he may have had serious point as to how late we dare push the last drilling date for winter wheat.

See also: T0 fungicide advice for disease in late-drilled winter wheat

Some late attempts at establishing a crop have been successful locally this year, but there are plenty of others with a long way to go.

Just how are we going to make the best out of a bad job?

Early nitrogen is a given, but “little and often” might be the best approach this year — and given the poor potential, what should the total amount be?

The crop v input price calculation will need really careful analysis to get the best – or indeed any – return.

Other nutrition such as trace elements and phosphite may help.

Growth regulators and rolling have always helped thicken a struggling crop, but we’ll have to wait a while before we dare risk the latter this year.

And of course, the best and cheapest input is completely beyond our control – warm (spring?) sunshine.

Underwhelming Eustice

As George Eustice failed to hit a home run at the NFU conference, with an underwhelming performance, our local MP, Kevin Hollinrake, has been on a charm offensive to gather agricultural opinions from far and wide.

He showed a knowledge and empathy that left me convinced we have a really good MP watching our backs in the run-up to the big Ag Bill scrap.

In terms of efficient food production, plant breeding has big gains to offer. But genome editing is still locked behind a big door marked “EU excuses”.

Now we have waved farewell to our continental cousins, is anybody at Defra going to look for the key and let UK agriculture compete with the rest of the world?

In 1935, an eminent Russian scientist called Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov stressed the importance of collecting organic material samples to use as genetic resources for future developments.

Eighty-five years on, can we now make a giant leap in food research and development production?