Wheat drilling has been an interrupted affair so far this autumn, with rapid changes in soil moisture and drying winds between sometimes heavy rainfalls.
Some has gone in well, with a mixture of cultivations and where possible followed with a cambridge roll. Where needed slug pellets and pre-emergence herbicides are applied close behind as well. Seed rates have varied quite a bit, with a large difference in thousand grain weights (TGW), although our heavily gravity separated home-saved seed did get to a sensible 51g TGW.
The drill is close to catching up with available land, with only wheat after root crops left to establish after that. I have not rushed to lift beet, but we are about to have the first batch up. The sugar content has been a worry on light land this year, but the factory average is climbing and we need to now start moving some.
Potato harvesting locally is progressing, and ours are about to be lifted. As mentioned last month, many had needed to irrigate to soften the soil before harvesting, but rains since have reduced that need thankfully. I hope elsewhere in the country that conditions have improved for others. I know many have struggled with the wet weather this season.
Although now based at Whittlesey, we still have some family-owned land at Newborough, and I have taken some interest in the potential proposals by Peterborough City Council to take back much of their 1,200ha tenanted estate to develop a massive wind and solar energy park.
This is part of an ambitious council plan to be more self-sufficient in energy, but the scale of the likely proposal is huge and could potentially end 17 family farm tenancies in the area. This has become a very contentious issue, and there are many reasons to oppose the plans, particularly the economic, social and moral issue of so many family homes and businesses directly and indirectly affected if the proposal goes ahead.
Philip Bradshaw grows cereals, sugar beet and potatoes on 300ha of fenland and other soil types at Flegcroft Farm, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire