Fieldwork has been a nighmare for Keith Challen

I had hoped to report on a bumper harvest this time, but with most of the wheat still uncut, that will have to wait until next time. We have cut the Gallant milling wheat with good yields and average quality. The oilseed rape was average. I had convinced myself it was going to be a bumper year, but Mother Nature had different ideas.

Field work has been a nightmare – we’ve been stuck more times than I care to remember and our cultivation strategy has been simple: one pass with the Horsch Terrano and then let it dry. Unfortunately it’s just kept raining and it is anyone’s guess when we will get back on. But it will need a second pass. Most of the natural structure has been lost through the excessive rainfall.

Competition time, guess which machine has completed the most hours this summer, the Case Quadtrac or perhaps the big Fendt? Neither of these, it is in fact our new Komatsu digger. We have actually spent more time cleaning ditches and culverts than we have cultivating, and thank goodness we have, I don’t think I’ve ever seen drains run so much in August, especially the ones buried under 15cm of silt.

Usually we have finished drilling our winter rape by now, but so far only 25ha are in the ground and it’s just started to emerge nicely, only to be ravaged by slugs and pigeons. I’m contemplating putting gas bangers out and it’s still only August. I wish this year would just hurry up and finish.

Keith Challen manages 800ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Fruit Farms. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business.

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