Farmer Focus: Rye swamped with blackgrass and replanted

I have spent the past few weeks in the office reviewing last year and planning this year. We also had a staff health and safety meeting to assess where we are and identify any issues  we can foresee.

One thing that came up is that we are not particularly good at filling in near-misses, so we will be focusing on this area.

The crops have come out of the winter looking good, with the exception of 60ha of rye that had too much blackgrass for my liking. This was duly sprayed off and has since been replanted with winter wheat.

About the author

Robin Aird
Arable Farmer Focus writer Robin Aird manages 1500 ha on the North Wiltshire and Gloucestershire border with a further 160ha on a contract farming agreement.  Soils vary from gravel to clay, with the majority silty clay loams. A diverse estate with residential, commercial and events enterprises. He is Basis qualified and advises on other farming businesses.
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See also: How Bedfordshire grower aims to cut N use in milling wheat

I could not believe how dry the ground was. Historically, you would struggle to walk across the fields at this time of the year, but with the drier December and January the ground is in excellent condition.

It’s the first time I have planted in January, so it will be interesting to see how it performs. In my head it looks to be a cheap crop to grow, but time will tell.

I recently totalled up the holidays due to be taken by staff and was horrified to see how much has been carried over due to lockdowns and holidays being cancelled.

It is so important to get away, and staff will be pushed hard over the next two years to use all remaining holidays carried forward. It also allows other workers to try different roles when the main operator is away.

We will be starting our first round of fertiliser soon – hopefully ground conditions will still be as good as they are now. The rye will be first on the list and then we will wait on the wheat, as the crop still looks very growy.

The sheep have nearly eaten all the stubble turnips and will then fly across the cover crop in front of the maize land.

These fields are looking well, but I do wonder if I have missed an opportunity to plant some spring wheat. I am nervous to plant a low-input cereal too early as this could create a lot of problems later in the season.

At present, we seem to be ahead of the curve with workload, but it won’t take long until we start chasing our tails if the weather changes.

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