Farmer Focus: Preparation work for harvest completed

I’m literally about to pack my speedos and knotted handkerchief and head off for a summer break – my timing this year is impeccable.

Oilseed rape desiccation is complete and, other than a few dozen loads of corn to load and stores to clean, we are ready for harvest.

Farmstar, our local Case dealer, have done a great job of readying our Axial-Flow combine going through it from front to rear with minimal work required.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

This will be the Case’s fifth harvest and normally that would mean it is also to be its last. However, with it being so reliable and cheap to run there is a temptation to keep it – some careful maths and considerations will need to be taken this winter before we commit.

A recent visit to Agrii’s heavy land blackgrass site at Stow Longa left me feeling a little smug. The guys there are doing an amazing job and having implemented their take home messages for blackgrass control over the past six years I feel we are finally getting the measure of it.

Where we have blackgrass on the farm this year we know why that is. Full analysis of our new system will take place this winter when we compare running costs and yields to previous years.  

Exam stress

With A-levels finally completed the stress levels in the Challen household are back to normal. If effort and commitment to studying set the grades then my daughter Harriet would be straight A* student.

As a parent, I couldn’t be prouder, and I’m only too aware that while I will be caught up in the fast pace of harvest she will be packing her bags in readiness to join one of our industries great academic institutes –hopefully they will be some of the best years of her life.

A wise man once told me your team is only as strong as its weakest link – in our team that’s probably me. One of the strongest members of my team has had to retire due to ill health and at 75 he’s earned the right to take it easy.

I won’t embarrass him by name but his skill, enthusiasm and experience is already greatly missed.


Keith Challen manages 1,200ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Farming Company. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business.


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Harvest is one of the most hectic and exciting times of year on the farm. Capture your harvest 2020 on camera and share photos and videos with us.

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