Farmer Focus : Bill Davey 17/12/04

BETWEEN 60 and 80mm of much needed rain recharged Canterbury Plain soils last weekend, and you can almost hear crops growing. Old timers say an inch of rain between Christchurch Show in mid November and Christmas sees you through to harvest on the good soils. From what I”ve seen that might be wishful thinking.

The rain has given us a welcome break from irrigating so we actually had the weekend off.

December sees the run up to harvest; grass seeds and winter barley are usually ready by New Year. Christmas festivities seem to come and go unnoticed by many. Turkey, plum pudding and carols with temperatures of around 30 degrees just don’t seem to go together.

Last season we had a new John Deere 9650 CTS combine delivered, replacing the old JD 9600 inherited with the farm. But the CTS did not live up to my expectations, struggling to cope with any amount of straw, be it grass or cereal. Taking the heads off a wheat crop, there was nothing to touch it. Designed and built in the USA, this machine would be more at home on the prairies, not the plains.

It was only when I called upon friend and neighbour, Mike Rudge, a former English farmer from Epwell, near Banbury, to help us out with his Claas Lexion 470 that I realised the output of the European design in comparison. Our JD couldn’t live with the Lexion; working side by side in a crop of windrowed Kale, the Lexion took two swaths with ease, the JD struggling with one. Consequently our new Lexion should be delivered next week, one of 18 our local dealership has sold this season.

Changing a combine after one season is not something we make a habit of doing but with Canterbury”s extremes one has to be well armed to take advantage of every harvesting opportunity.