Slugs are a key concern for Jon Parker

Oilseed rape harvest has finally drawn to a close and, hopefully, by now we will have started the wheat. Over a two-week period we had four full days of combining; the rest was a catchy affair around showers and heavy storms.

As expected, yields are down on last year, but we have ended up with 3.5t/ha. This is not a guesstimate, yield meter or pub talk, but delivered into store tonnage. If we included the slugs, I am sure it would be 4t/ha.

On the positive side though the glyphosate worked really well this year with virtually the whole plant dead which certainly aided harvesting. The aftermath of the combine though is some severally rutted fields, even with tracks on the combine. This has led to a dual approach to cultivations.

Some land has been ploughed where the ruts were particularly bad. This has dried out well and has now had the Cultipress over it. The remainder has been worked with the SLD once the land dried sufficiently. In both cases, we will hopefully achieve some good stale seed-beds.

Our attention now turns to rape planting. My concern is the number of slugs and do we need to increase seed rates or as our rotation is tight will there be plenty of volunteers? This then leads on to slug pellet use. The last thing we need is overuse and traces being found in the watercourses.

If there has to be a plus side to the recent catchy weather I have at least been able to catch some of the coverage of the Olympics and also attempt at getting up to speed on Twitter. I have always been a bit of a sceptic, but thanks to #clubhectare members I think I may be a convert.

Jon Parker manages 1,500ha, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on a medium to heavy land, for Ragley Home Farms, predominantly arable growing wheat, oilseed rape, and salad onions. There is also a beef fattening unit and sheep flock.

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