Keith Challen enjoys the Bank Holiday in the sprayer

Well, I asked for rain and did we get it, 185mm in April – and May has started wet. Crops have received enough to last until harvest so sunshine now please.

A protracted flowering period for the oilseed rape has prompted me to employ a three-spray sclerotinia programme this year, with the second one applied over the Bank Holiday weekend. My sprayer operator is suffering with a bad back, so the job fell to me. What an absolute pleasure it was, firstly the rape looks stunning and full of potential, and secondly the Challenger Rogator is just an awesome bit of kit and soon mopped up 1,000 acres. Wheats look impressive, T1 was a little late for comfort, but so far septoria tritici looks to be held at bay.

With the ever-growing success of our drinks business, demand for elder flowers is growing beyond what we can source locally, so we are looking for suppliers of handpicked wild elder flowers in central England. If you’ve got loads of elder flowers on your farm we would love to buy them, we pay £2/kg and so if you want to earn a few extra pounds, please get in touch.

As most of you know, puppies will eat anything. After my rape spraying over the weekend, I cleaned the belly plates out from under the sprayer. As usual, these were full of rape petals, so I made a heap with a view to cleaning up later. Well, Millie decided that while I wasn’t looking she would eat as much as possible. I’m sure you can imagine how the story ends – needless to say it stained!

Today is my birthday and I’m soon to return home for tea and presents. I’ve been told to keep out of the garage, maybe they’ve got me the exclusive Holland and Holland Range Rover after all.

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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