Farmer Focus: Preparing for this autumn’s slug battle

More frustrating weather in the North of England continues to hamper combine movements. Spring barley and winter wheat are queuing for the harvester as I write — but when we’ll get going is anyone’s guess.

On the positive side the crops look heavy and it is with great anticipation that we wait to collect the surprising fruits of a forgettable season.

See also: Advice on best drilling date for winter wheat in England and Scotland

Lots of OSR has been drilled locally into ideal seed-beds, with lots of moisture and warm soil temperatures. I fear that old enemy Deroceras agreste (the grey field slug) may return to do battle with us this autumn.

It was interesting just lately to see the variation in pellet formulations. Some ferric phosphate pellets powder up as you tip them in the hopper, while others are very robust and can be spread accurately to 24m.

Whether there is any difference in the uptake by pests is yet to be seen. It was a pleasant surprise not to have a ”blue” back for once.

I’m no Monty Don, but our fruit orchard has loved the damp, warm weather lately. Trees are laden with fruit, with apples in particular nearly breaking the branches that hold them. We put them on a table by the roadside and collect for the British Heart Foundation.

As with any honesty box, it seems some folks are more honest than others! Still, we feel it’s worth the effort — the apples would only rot if not collected.

The removal of the greening requirement in the Basic Payment Scheme took me by surprise and got me wondering whether this glimmer of common sense might extend to a revisiting of other red tape issues.

There has been a lot of chatter recently about the need to leave road verges to grow wild, but if hedges are to be useful as a windbreak, or even as an effective invertebrate corridor, they need to be maintained, and doing so when the soil is relatively dry is obviously a good idea.

Maybe we could hope for a “Rishi Sunak” at Defra in the next cabinet reshuffle. Judging by the success of his innovative “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme in getting bums on seats locally, the young chancellor certainly gets things done.