Stop-start harvest frustrates Will Howe

Just as the last hot lunch delivery van got home, signalling the end of a hectic term at The Farm Kitchen for my wife Vicky, the combine was pulling out of the farm ready to start cutting the oilseed rape.

Our busy periods always seem to come at different times. I am sure we would be a marriage counsellor’s nightmare.

However, we have now cleared 46ha of Excalibur, which has yielded as well as I had expected. The main problem is the stems staying green while the seed is ready, and with not having the dryer commissioned until next harvest, the weather will be responsible for pulling out the last 2%. Remember, patience is a virtue.

Currently, with the damp wind whipping in from Siberia, our harvest continuation seems a few days away and my feet get ever itchier. The positive of the unseasonal weather is that we are not trying to force the oilseed rape until it will actually be fit.

With some land free to prepare for next season, we have re-pointed the 10m pigtail drag with the intention of using it to level the fields before using our Sumo Versadrill. So far, this is having mixed results and may require some more development.

Another concern is the smearing effect of the Challenger tracks on the soil surface. Nineteen per cent of my croppable area is at either end of the field. This led me to look at other prime movers which are tyre-based.

A “baby” artic-steered tractor would fit the bill. I can possibly get one on demo in September. My next best offer by a keen salesman was to go and watch one in the sandpits of Norfolk. But I fear this will tell me little about how it will perform on heavy land with my equipment.

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