Trevor Horsnell, a former
Sugar Beet Grower of the
Year, part owns and rents
182ha (450 acres) at
Gorrells Farm, Highwood,
Chelmsford, Essex. Besides
beet, his cropping includes
potatoes and winter wheat,
barley and oilseed rape
ONE of the problems with committing ones thoughts to print each month is that from time to time they come back to haunt you.
Last month I said I was not going to rush into potato planting on our heavy, cold soil. It is now nearly five weeks since the wheels of the planter turned and 80% of my seed still sits in the cold store. I have to admit there is more than a touch of egg on my face.
Experience tells me that our best maincrop yields come from plantings at the end of April or early May, but we are rapidly moving out of this window. Yields and, more importantly, quality are going to suffer as harvest date is forced back by the delayed planting. But if yields are reduced nationally at least that may boost prices, as would a reduction in crop area by those irresponsible growers who increased their plantings last year.
The promised better weather has been slow to arrive in this part of the country. Daytime temperatures failed to reach double figures for much of last week and the outstanding T1 fungicide plus Starane (fluroxypyr) mix has been put on hold for our later sown wheats. We have our best ever crop of cleavers but these crops are only just at GS32 so I hope a wait for warmer weather will be beneficial.
Our sugar beet has emerged well and is making reasonable growth. Low-rate chloridazon pre-emergence paid handsome dividends and the only weeds so far are a few speedwells and chickweeds. Post emergence "FAR" applications are keeping those in check and volunteer potatoes are also few. I hope to avoiding using chlorpyralid which will reduce the herbicide bill considerably.
The recent farmers weekly comparison of a Ford and a John Deere tractor (Power Farming, Apr 28) was interesting. But I am sure what would be of great interest to most farmers is the same comparison five years later when the bits have started to drop off. *
Still in store and egg on my face, says Essex grower Trevor Horsnell. His patience in March with potato planting has been upset by Aprils deluge.