Rain pushes Philip Bradshaw’s harvest even later

I had not been too hopeful for harvest 2012. With the lack of sunshine and heavy disease pressure, particularly on wheat, I feared record low yields for our combinable crops.

So far, things are not quite as bad as feared. My oilseed rape has just averaged 4t/ha, which is down from last year’s 5t/ha, but very close to the five-year average. The good result from semi-dwarf DK Sequoia was tempered by a small block of taller varieties lodging badly in the heavy June storms, which pulled the average down. But, on balance, the results could have been worse.

We have subsoiled the tramlines, and will be raking the stubbles soon with a shared stubble rake, and then assessing cultivation and drilling strategy on a field-by-field basis. While much of the land is in good shape, some will need some cultivation to level and improve conditions for drilling.

The wheat harvest has again seen a difficult start. First cut was some second wheat Oakley and JB Diego on some light gravel loam and it had a weighbridge yield of 9t/ha, which surprised me as, like all of our wheat, some yield was lost to ear disease problems. Some Santiago first wheat followed, which looks like being a little higher yielding.

I am relieved that at least some of our wheat is showing a respectable yield, and although quality is down, it is again not as bad as I feared. I fear that some of our crops will have lost more potential, but it is a respectable start. It is frustrating, though, with rain holding us up periodically and pushing the season even later.

I have applied the first of two fungicides to the sugar beet, and a contractor’s beet surfer has trimmed the bolters and weed beet in some fields. The potatoes are growing well, but the blight pressure is still a serious ongoing concern.

Philip Bradshaw grows cereals, sugar beet and potatoes on 300ha of fenland and other soil types at Flegcroft Farm, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire.

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