Stewart Haylor farms 343ha
(850 acres) of owned and
rented land from Blackler
Barton, Landscove, Devon,
growing cereals and
combinable breaks. Organic
vegetables occupy 24ha
(60 acres) and a further
160ha (400 acres) is farmed
WEATHER is always a talking point, and with 185mm (7.5in) of rain in April it has had a fair influence on our fieldwork.
Barley received Opus (epoxiconazole) plus Amistar (azoxystrobin) at 0.5 1itres/ha and 0.6 litres/ha, respectively, plus 1.75 litres/ha of chlormequat at GS30/31, costing us £32/ha (£13/acre). The wheat T1 spray, 0.25 litres/ha of Opus plus chlormequat, was considerably cheaper.
Timings were not all optimal, with rain or strong winds hampering progress. But every opportunity was taken to get on, as experience has shown that even under poor spraying conditions it is vital to get on with T1 sprays to keep on top of Septoria tritici. Now, crops look well and even our wetter fields are better than usual.
Nitrogen applications were finished last week, topping wheats up to 180-210kg/ha (150-170 units/acre). Looking at the price of nitrogen this spring shows the benefit of early ordering when prices were in the low £80s/t.
Our 10ha (24 acres) of organic potatoes, Cara and Remarka, are through having been planted around Mar 24 in good conditions. I was keen to get them in, as I know the field is slow to dry out and rain could delay planting. As it has turned out there was no chance in April. Better in than out as the saying goes!
Also, with organic potatoes we have a limited ability to control blight. That means we must do all we can to promote early growth. Now, weed control is top priority as the soils dry out. We are using a rotary cultivator, which breaks down the sides of the ridges and then reforms them. Last year just one pass followed up with hand weeding did the trick, and Caras massive canopy helps to smother weeds. That is also an ideal environment for blight, but last year we were fortunate in not having a problem. As a result I enjoyed selling over 44t/ha (18t/acre) of potatoes for more than £200/t. *
Remember me? Former FW barometer grower Stewart Hayllor from Landscove, in Devon, joins the Farmer Focus team.