Archive Article: 2000/09/01

1 September 2000

Trevor Horsnell

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

IF you believe all you read, growing wheat is easy. All you do is drill early at a low seed rate, wait until April to top-dress and you cant fail to harvest at least 15t/ha (6t/acre). But as we all know, things in the real world are a little different and our harvest has rewritten the rules.

Our highest yielding wheat crops were November-sown Claire after sugar beet and Charger as a second wheat, yielding 10t/ha (4t/acre) and 9.9t/ha respectively. Only one field yielded less than 9t/ha (3.6t/acre) and overall I am well satisfied with the wheat yields considering the lack of sunshine. The biggest disappointment was some September-drilled Claire where, theoretically, we did everything right: Low seed rate, no nitrogen before April, and two growth regulators. But still, despite no real storms, most of it fell over. There are some lessons to be learned on how different varieties respond to different sowing dates.

The Massey combine, about which I have made the odd derogatory remark in the past, has performed reliably with just one trip to the "local" dealer this harvest for a new alternator. Not only are the staff at Weatherheads always ready to offer a sympathetic ear or helpful advice, but now I get an ice cold drink after my one hour journey as well. Thanks chaps, but make it a beer next time!

Four weeks since harvest and some of our oilseed rape stubbles still have no volunteers on them which is a little mystifying. Is it my legendary combining skills, the frugal Massey combine, or some other unexplained phenomena? Being the dedicated follower of fashion that I am, we have not ploughed these. A little spadework has shown up some plough pans and soil conditions are just dry enough for sub-soiling, so we have married up the Shakerator to our old Roterra to good effect. However, looking at the much-welded headstock on the Roterra I am sure that the union will end in divorce. &#42

Trevor Horsnell reckons there are lessons to be learned about how individual wheat varieties respond to different drilling dates after some harvest surprises.

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