Farmer Focus: OSR to return after 12-year absence

Early July is when we usually plan next year’s cropping, assess harvest potential and get a handle on future direction of the business.

Following British Sugar (finally) stepping up, beet will stay in the rotation for now.

Up here in Yorkshire its quite a consistent performer, so if we keep tweaking our strip till and bio endeavours alongside a few more quid from BS, its place will remain.

See also: Why BYDV-tolerant barley may prove itself in disease hotspots

About the author

Andrew Wilson
Arable Farmer Focus writer Andrew Wilson is a fourth-generation tenant of Castle Howard Estate in North Yorkshire. The farm supports crops of wheat, barley, oats, beans, sugar beet, potatoes, and grass for hay across 250ha. Other enterprises include bed and breakfast pigs, environmental stewardship, rooftop solar and contracting work.  
Read more articles by Andrew Wilson

After a few dry springs I’m leaning back towards winter beans, even though we’d lose the opportunity for a cover crop to hit nematodes.

This is mostly due to better consistency, weed control and harvesting not clashing with lifting potatoes, as is often the case with spring beans

Oilseed rape will appear at Brickyard Farm for the first time since 2010. I always try to avoid being a bandwagon jumper, but the oat price is terrible and the two fields destined for OSR haven’t seen the crop since the 1980s.

They’re also the dirtiest fields regarding grassweeds, and are due muck this time, so with the wheat harvest looking early, the decision is made (cue the price crashing).

Winter barley harvest here was a pleasant surprise, with our average yield at 8.9t/ha, and a range of 7.6-10.4t/ha.

For two-row feed barley, I’ll take that. Let’s hope the other crops follow suit.

Irrigation at the moment is a constant challenge of water availability, machine reliability and fuel cost.

We can only water about 30% of our potatoes – a crop under scrutiny at the moment, due to the ever-increasing risks and diminishing rewards of growing them.

Average yield expectations at the moment look like leaving a negative margin, which, coupled with no indication yet of 2023-24 prices from our market, is reducing my enthusiasm for a crop that has been my main focus for all of my farming life.

Here’s hoping for a pleasant surprise soon.

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