Archive Article: 1997/07/19

19 July 1997

.WE ARE amused watching the Brits debate how they are going to survive with wheat at £80/t.

Our wheat prices here have been hovering around the 800-850FF mark for 3 years with the last years average at 830FF/t for milling wheat.

Unfortunately, currency conversions on real terms do not equate and this 830F didnt equal £110 at the old 7.5F to the £ rate. Let me explain: Our gross margin calculations show it costs between 2,000-2,500F to grow one hectare of wheat, depending on whether seed is farm-saved or bought and on the amount of basal fertiliser applied.

This cost, in real terms, remains at 10F to the £ as our seed, chemical and fertiliser prices remain constant despite variations in the value of the £. One cannot divide the production costs by 7.5F and say that it cost between £266 and £333 to grow a hectare of wheat.

And what will happen when the now stronger £ reaches parity at 10F/£? Nothing. Our production costs and prices remain the same. Therefore take heart – 830FF/t which equates to £83/t, has been with us for some years now along with much lower area aid payments than the UK and we are still in business!

The rain has stopped and since Saturday we have seen that rare beast, the sun. Combine harvesters have been spotted today in La Beauce taking their first bite of the winter barley, a lot of which is now lodged to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the regulator used. We only applied two Cycocels to our barleys, the usual Cerone or Terpal application was left out of the programme due to the very dry and cold conditions that prevailed before ear emergence.

Barley disease has been remarkably low this year with most 6-row varieties remaining unaffected by the usually aggressive net blotch. The 2-rows such as Clarine suffered badly from this disease which is becoming increasingly difficult to control with triazoles.

Thankfully we have Unix (cyprodinil) which had a recommendation for use in barley this year and it has proved very effective against net blotch and rhynchosporium.

The wheats still look well despite a disease explosion brought on by the long wet spell. Septoria in poorly treated crops has completely defoliated the plants and fusarium has had a field day. I have never seen such large lesions of fusarium nivale on the leaves before in France and stems have been badly affected at flag leaf level. The result of this could be reduced specific weights and grain quality.

A few days of sun and high temperatures will bring the wheat to harvest very quickly. In the south west and centre west of France, there are reports of considerable problems with grain germinating in the ear.

Europe could be heading for a shortage of high quality wheat this year. So we will ensure that all varieties are stocked separately and that sampling at harvest is done very carefully to ensure that we have confidence in the laboratory analysis on which our grain is very often sold.

The sugar beet suffered from the drought at planting despite the excellent seedbeds. Unfortunately there was little moisture even at 3cm and germination was prolonged. At Artenay we irrigated the heavy land beet to improve emergence but despite the 20mm of water, the beet are still irregular.

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