Farmer Focus: Last year taught me not to give up on a crop

At long last, November drilled wheat emerged after what seemed like an eternity and was looking pleased with itself, having survived the gamble of delayed drilling, even though we had no other option.

As a bonus, it looks like the weed and disease pressures are very low.

The relatively dry finish to November and start of December has no doubt allowed a few more acres of wheat to be ‘malled’ in.

See also: How grain analysis can help farmers hit wheat protein specs

Will this prove to be a good decision come harvest time?

With wheat seed already on farm and future prices holding up, I’m inclined to think this was a better bet than acquiring fresh seed and taking another gamble as to when spring will appear.

Can a late-drilled crop yield well? Just ask Mark Stubbs, who produced the YEN top yielding crop with 16.3t/ha.

The recent well-attended National Register of Sprayer Operators ‘10 pointer’ event was very informative and useful.

However, I still think we’re slow in telling our retail customers how a well-trained, professional spray operator fits into UK food production.

The voluntary initiative has certainly transformed the whole area of responsible pesticide applications. Which other countries come even close?

Biased broadcasting

As 2019 has come to a close we can all look back and ponder lessons learnt. Here are three of mine:

1. No two seasons are alike. Whether it’s climate change in action or just the normal run of things, weather patterns seem to be becoming more extreme across the range from cold and wet, to warm and dry.

And this past year has had extremes in spades. Planning has been near impossible and “reaction” farming seems to be the new normal.

2. Don’t give up on a crop. Spring brought a cold, slow start. But who could have predicted the warm “perfect growing season” that followed, resulting in some great yields come harvest?

3. The BBC can’t be trusted. From Radio 4’s Today programme attacking farming, to the “don’t eat meat” debacle on BBC One, the nation’s ex-favourite broadcaster really showed it’s townie colours and, at least when it came to talking about farmers’ livelihoods, seemed to forget its obligation to be balanced, well informed, and above all. fair.


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