Archive Article: 2000/04/14

14 April 2000

John Best

John Best farms 320ha from

Acton House Farm,

Pointspass, Co Down.

Wheat, conservation-grade

oats and potatoes are the

main crops on his 220ha of

clay loam arable land

OUR accounts for the year ending Jan 31 are complete and the profit and loss account does not look healthy.

The farm is a mixed enterprise business, but all are struggling, the cereal sector as much as any of the enterprises. It is a mystery to me why arable aid was omitted from the package announced at the Downing Street summit.

Over the past month the weather has improved, with only 30mm (1.2in) of rain since the second week in March and daytime temperatures averaging 12C (54F). This has lead to a rapid increase in crop growth, but a cold snap and frost last week halted spraying.

We have already applied 45g/ha of Druid (amidosulfuron) and 20g/ha of Simba (metsulfuron-methyl) to two particularly bad fields of wheat, which are infested with speedwells. Fortress (quinoxyfen) at 0.15 litres/ha was applied to the Barra winter oats to counter the varietys susceptibility to mildew. We must apply the fungicide before disease appears, as no eradicant chemicals are approved on our conservation grade contract for oats.

The base compound fertiliser was applied in mid-March using an 8-12-38 blend. Phosphate levels are still high in the majority of fields due to the application of sludge three or four years ago. Rates were based on individual field analysis.

Now, crops are all well tillered and 60kg/ha of nitrogen plus 12kg/ha of sulphur is being applied as liquid to the early winter wheats. Later wheats and oats will follow in the next few days.

Drilling of spring crops was completed last week in excellent conditions. As I have ploughed out some grass leys, we are growing Chablis and Raffles on seed contracts. This is my first attempt at producing seed, and it will be interesting to see whether the appealing figures produced on paper by the merchant actually materialise in practice.

Our bean acreage is down to just 5ha (12 acres) of Sirocco, which could be unfortunate in a year when demand for home produced protein is forecast to increase. &#42

Dry weather in March saw John Best crack on with spring drilling at Pointspass, Co Down.

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