Farmer Focus: Only thing being cut at the moment is weeds

Late June, early July is pretty quiet on an organic combinable crop farm as far as field operations are concerned.

Crops are not ready to be harvested yet, so we have been doing a bit of weed cutting above the crops with our new imported Bionalan weed cutter.

About the author

John Pawsey
Arable Farmer Focus writer John Pawsey is an organic farmer at Shimpling Park in Suffolk. He started converting the 650ha of arable cropping in 1999, and also contract farms an additional 915ha organically, growing wheat, barley, oats, beans and spelt.
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It’s mainly mowing wild oats and the odd thistle head that have raised themselves above the crop.

See also: Farmer Focus: The wheats are on the turn

Because it’s been so hot and dry we have had to get across the wild oats within five days once they are mid-flowering before they become viable, which we have managed to do.

The other job is the final cut of the leys on our stockless contract farms to mulch the clover and any weeds that have persisted.

Usually, we start cultivating them in the last week of July, but this year we are going to leave them until we get some significant rain as currently the ground is rock hard and will burn through wearing metal like butter.

With our soils being around 40% clay, our winter crops are still looking pretty good and with a sunny June, the grain is plump.

However, our spring crops have only managed a single tiller due to lack of rain, which does give me some cause for concern.

Winter spelt is usually the first crop in the barn on about 25 July, but currently it’s looking a week earlier.

Getting the crop off in July is the entry point for our green manures, as the spelt is followed by a spring crop. The manures will be grazed by our sheep and then be turned in mid-February.

Our seed order this year contains buckwheat, mustard, red clover, vetch, crimson clover, persian clover and phacelia, which captures and builds nutrients as well as smothering a few weeds.

Wishing you all a magnificent harvest!

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