Jim Bullock farms 283ha
(700 acres) in partnership
with his parents and brother
at Mill Farm, Guarlford,
Malvern, Worcs. Two-thirds
is rented or contract farmed,
the rest owned. Cropping is
winter wheat, winter oilseed
rape and winter beans
EVERYTHING has needed spraying all at once after the wettest April on record.
Over 150mm (6in) of rain meant spraying days were few and far between.
The winter beans had quite high levels of chocolate spot, especially where neighbouring fields grew beans last year, before 0.5 litres/ha of Folicur (tebuconazole) and 1 litres/ha of Bravo (chlorothalonil) was applied.
Wheats raced from GS33 to GS39 in just over a week, which made flag leaf applications urgent. The original plan was a mix of 0.3 litres/ha Opus (epoxiconazole) plus 0.6 litres/ha Amistar (azoxystrobin), but after all the rain an extra 0.2 litres/ha of Opus, or more, was added to deal with the septoria in the crop.
Our lo-tilled crops are quite short this year, a result of a later than planned main nitrogen top-dressing, we believe. Also, wider row spacings mean tillers do not grow so tall, as there is less competition for light. Shorter crops are good news for lo-tilling next autumn as there is less straw.
I have recently returned from a lo-till study trip to France. The message that came over loud and clear is that if there is a future for low value combinable crops such as wheat and oilseed rape, reduced cultivations and an ICM approach will have to be implemented. Many growers there have already gone down the lo-till route and are now a stage further on, reducing seed rates, improving fertiliser utilisation and cutting back on agrochemicals, all as a result of better soil management. A full report will appear in FW soon.
All the French farmers we spoke to are keen on the Canadian idea to "take out 10%". If every grower producing for the world market cuts production by 10% a shortage would be created and prices would rise. To make it work, the French suggest everybody takes out their headlands, meaning growers can see that neighbours are playing the game. With set-aside payments still available, it might not be such a bad idea. *
Back from France, where growers think that all headlands should be set aside to force up world grain markets, Jim Bullock and brother Nigel (left) have been busy with the sprayer.