Maize seed better still in the bag than in the ground, says Simon Beddows

One of my somewhat tongue-in-cheek predictions made in January, that we would end up with a wet spring, seems to have come horribly true. T1 fungicide treatments were applied around about 14 April, when leaf three was fully out and leaf two just starting to show. However, the flag leaf then took another month to emerge.

Maize drilling has also been delayed, but it has probably been safer in the bag than in the ground. I have heard several reports of early drilled maize seed rotting in the ground due to the cold and wet soils. Despite the difficult conditions, spray applications have remained on time, a combination of good fortune and seizing every opportunity, however short, to rush out with the sprayer. At last a spring where light, drought-prone soils are an advantage, rather than a recipe for low yields.

On-farm trials this year are looking at all three of the new SDHI fungicides at the T2 timing on wheat. Septoria is likely to be the biggest threat and even on our poorer soils there should be a payback. We also have an application trial as part of our ongoing work with Syngenta’s Application Club. This year we are looking at low water rates with fungicides.

A recent visit to the farm from Kockerling’s German representative to check how we are getting on with the drill is indicative of the excellent service we have received from this company. The crops have all looked very even this season. Results from the maize drilling will be the next point of interest in terms of what the drill can achieve, should it ever dry out enough!

At last Hovis have dumped the straw-sucking farmer image. We have two of their banners up on the farm which, hopefully, will reinforce the message that bread comes from the fields that people drive past on the way to work.

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize.

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