Archive Article: 1998/10/23

23 October 1998

Brian Lock

Brian Lock farms rented and

owned land in Dorset,

including 200ha (500

acres) at Silverlake Farm,

Sherborne. Cropping

includes wheat and barley

for feed, seed and malting markets plus oilseed rape

and herbage seed

I am relieved to report that after a slow start we are well into autumn cereal sowing. It has been very catchy, but all the winter barley is sown and over half the winter wheat. All went in remarkably well. We have been able to harrow headlands and roll everything.

C2 Maris Otter for malting was sown at 135kg/ha (120lb/acre), C1 Otter for seed at 140kg/ha (125lb/acre). C1 Clare winter wheat for seed went in at what for us is a low rate of 135kg/ha, but this was all the seed we could get.

Our main wheat Consort with a thousand grain weight of 56g is at 210kg/ha (188lb/acre) to give 375 seeds/sq m.

We apply Avadex (tri-allate) granules at 15kg/ha on all headlands at 12m width to control sterile brome where we know we have a problem.

Herbage seeds are establishing very slowly and slugs have been rampant. Each field had 7kg/ha of metaldehyde immediately after sowing and we have had to use the same again on most crops.

One Molisto field has been hard hit and may not survive. Its neighbour sown the same day in more favourable soil is already being grazed by store lambs. I hope to get permission to keep one of our 1998 fields for a second harvest year, subject to volunteer seedling inspection, to compensate for this possible loss.

The darkest hour is just before the dawn. Have we, perhaps, on the arable and milk side of our industry seen this? As autumn crops show green, is there perhaps a sign of a recovery? Sterling has weakened, interest rates have moved down, albeit modestly, and the grain price may even improve.

Lets hope it isnt a false dawn. As a sheep farmer taking on another farm on a short-term farm business tenancy, I am well aware of the acute problems in that sector. As my agronomist said: "You must be a glutton for punishment!"

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