Simon Thompson is farm
manager on John Nicholsons
Rectory Farm, Lower Benefield,
Northants. Soils are heavy
clays, growing 190ha
(460 acres) of wheat, beans
and oilseed rape, including
industrial crops on set-aside
AS I write, half the flag leaf sprays are still to be applied to wheats and they are becoming worryingly overdue.
To date Consort has had 1.2 litres/ha of Twist (trifloxystrobin) plus 0.5 litres/ha of Folicur (tebuconazole). Savannah, which is remarkably free of yellow rust, but suffering from septoria on lower leaves, is due Amistar (azoxystrobin) at 0.75 litres/ha plus 0.5 litres/ha of Folicur. Some wheat we are growing on 40ha (100 acres) of land under a share farming agreement will receive a conventional mix as it has a lower yield potential.
On a more enthusiastic note, Autocast rape has finished flowering and looks extremely well, as it has done all year. Not only has the system driven establishment costs down, but additional benefits have come to light. No broad-leaved weed control was needed and control of blackgrass with 1.75 litres/ha of Kerb (propyzamide) has worked well. To improve the system this year the stubble will be left as long as possible to deter pigeons.
With breakcrop margins so tight, we are also trimming fungicide inputs. A three-spray programme on the oilseed rape, costing £35/ha (£14/acre), has been cut to a single autumn hit of 0.25 litres/ha of Sanction (flusilazole) costing £7.50/ha (£3/acre). Variable costs should be cut on the Clipper winter beans too. The plan is to apply just one fungicide at pod set.
An early December application of simazine at 2 litres/ha did a good job, but, unfortunately, 0.5 litres/ha of Laser (cycloxydim) failed to control the patches of blackgrass, which are an increasing problem.
The beans were sold forward in February at £80/t for November movement, which I believe will prove to be a good price. As the farm is in the ACCS, I was relieved to receive a call from my merchant recently listing local end users who will only buy assured wheat this harvest. Now, those of us in the scheme must become price setters and demand a premium for our assured grain. *
"Phew, no rust on this Savannah yet!" says new Farmer Focus writer Simon Thompson. That is despite wind and rain holding up flag leaf sprays.