Group 4s dominate Keith Challen’s wheat variety choices

Sometimes you should be careful what you wish for in life.

Like every grower this spring I was praying for rain, but I don’t need it now. I was hoping to report on early oilseed rape yields. However, the combine is sat outside my office window just to wind me up even more as I wait for a break in the weather.

Thanks to Lincolnshire grower James Walgate for hosting a recent visit to his farm in Cuxwold. Christopher Green, from Crop Management Information was invited to talk about a series of trials he runs on the farm looking at new products to improve yield. My brain hurt as I mulled over his fascinating work. Farming just gets more exciting.

Another interesting visit this month was to see Edmund Brown of Browns Nursery, in Evesham, and probably the largest varietal collection of elders in the UK, with more than 30 varieties in one small orchard. I learned more in two hours with Ed than in the last nine months. I’ve at last got a plan, so watch this space.

I have finally decided on my wheat varieties for this season. Group 4s Oakley and new variety KWS Santiago take up 45% of the area each, with Group 1 variety Gallant taking the final 10%. Gross margins for Group 1s here don’t quite measure up to the barnfilling Group 4s. But I like to keep my hand in with a small amount grown close to the yard, hopeful that premiums will rise.

The machinery is ready, modifications to the Simba Solo oilseed rape drill and Horsch Terrano cultivator are complete. We’ve even had time to knock up a two leg mole plough and a bale spike. Our Larrington hire trailer has arrived with all its whistles and bells. It’s a fantastic bit of engineering – shame we can only half fill it to stay road legal.

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