Farmer Focus: Harvest over – now we can focus on drilling

The main cereal harvest finally concluded on 8 September after some much-needed settled weather. We then had a mini harvest break of 10 days while we waited patiently for our 60ha of spring beans to ripen.

The weather gods eventually played ball and the combines were finally put back in the shed on 19 September. Yields on the whole have exceeded expectation, with wheat, oilseed rape and spring beans all on or close to our five-year average.

Spring barley yields were slightly below average and winter barley almost 10% down. The winter barley yields, while disappointing, were hardly a surprise considering the weather at the time of drilling!

See also: Survey shows oilseed rape still has a future in arable rotations

The focus has now shifted to establishing next year’s crops. What a contrast August and September have been, with August rainfall ranging from 100mm to 135mm on our four Sencrop weather stations and September recording a mere 18-20mm!

Oilseed rape has established well with very little pest pressure so far, although there were signs of cabbage stem flea beetle attacks after a warm spell at the beginning of September. However, the threat does seem to have subsided since then.

Winter wheat, drilling the variety Grafton, started on 9 September. With the focus on later sowing further south due to blackgrass pressure, it would appear that the breeders have less focus on producing varieties suitable for early sowing, which is a shame as this is a key trait for some northern growers.

Grafton, which last appeared on the Recommended List in the 2018-19 edition, has been pretty bombproof for us when sown in the first week of September, more often than not being the top performing variety in a given year.

This year we have an area of KWS Colosseum and RGT Saki in the ground to see how they perform in the early slot.

David Fuller manages 3,500ha of medium sandy clays for McGregor Farms based at Coldstream, on both sides of the border. Cropping includes wheat, spring barley, winter barley and oilseed rape, spring beans and vining peas. Potatoes are farmed in collaboration with Greenvale AP.

Need a contractor?

Find one now