James Hosking farms 516ha
(1275 acres) with his
parents and brother at
Truro, Cornwall. Land is
equally split between share
farming, various FBTs and a
tenancy. Crops include
wheat, oats, barley and
daffodils, alongside sheep
and cattle enterprises
I IMAGINE I am not alone in beginning each new season with a little prayer in the hope that the weather will let us get through it as early as possible.
Here at Fentongollan we have a mixed farm. If one operation gets delayed it has a knock-on effect on the timing of the next.
At this time of year arable life is dominated by autumn drilling. We managed to get off to a good start at the beginning October. I would have preferred late September but we had to finish planting daffodils and get the grass established.
Early drilling in Cornwall can cause problems not only with our greatest fear, BYDV, but with crops getting too far advanced in a mild winter, too. The dry spell in the second half of September has done a lot to help dry out our wet fields, a legacy of nearly 200mm (8in) of rain in August.
We establish our cereals with a plough and furrow press, and drill with a power harrow combination. I try to start with some ground ploughed ahead of the drill. When the drill caught the plough up this autumn, the weather had turned and by keeping them close together we were able to keep going on all but the few wettest days.
I replaced our 10-year-old Amazone drill with the companys new RPD drill and power harrow this year. We have been thrilled with both its use and the end result. The ability to change power harrow tines by just removing a linchpin brought plenty of smiles all round.
All the cereals are drilled at 350 seeds a sq m. I have kept the same varieties as last season – Reaper, Hussar and Brigadier for the wheat, Fanfare for the barley and Solva for the oats. I would have liked to split the oat varieties, but could find no Gerald seed, apparently due to poor germination. Other varieties available are too susceptible to crown rust for our conditions. *
Daffodils are just one of the many crops James Hosking looks after at Fentongollan near Truro, Cornwall.