Brian Lock

5 June 1998

Brian Lock

Brian Lock farms rented and

owned land in Dorset,

including 200ha (500

acres) at Silverlake Farm,

Sherborne. Cropping

includes wheat and barley

for feed, seed and malting markets plus oilseed rape

and herbage seed

A WEEK is a long time in politics; in arable farming it is very short time when the weather is fine and settled, but interminable when it is wet and windy.

We have been blessed with a spell of favourable weather since I last reported. At that time we were behind schedule. Now we are fortunate having caught up with all of our outstanding arable work.

All our winter wheats have had flag leaf fungicide and, where appropriate, cleaver control herbicide. This year, on our agronomists advice, we used Opus (epoxiconazole) with Bravo (chlorothalonil) fungicides at 1 litre/ha and 0.7 litres/ha, respectively along with 0.5 litres/ha of Starane (fluroxypyr). Disease pressure has been acute and because we still grow Hussar and Brigadier, as well as Consort and Reaper, we have been very cautious.

Our Maris Otter winter barley, both seed and malting, has also benefited from fungicides. Our main concern has been rhynchosporium, so for the T2 treatment we used 1 litre/ha of Opus with 0.25 litres/ha of Mistral (fenpropimorph). But because rhynchosporium was re-infecting, we used a further 0.5 litres/ha of Opus with 0.5 litres/ha of carbendazim just as the ear was emerging. It is so important to keep these crops clean to ensure good grain fill for an acceptable sample to safeguard our seed and malting premiums.

A recent photograph of me standing in a heap of wheat was not, as local gossip had it, a heap of unsold grain. It was and still is some wheat committed to a pool for April/May/June 1998 collection, not through a local co-operative, but a national merchants pool.

This is a new experience for me. I decided to sell some of my wheat in this way after some miserable recent experiences in a wildly unpredictable market. Collections have only just started. The old adage about tops and bottoms of markets and for whom they were "made" rings in the ears, so it will be interesting to see how the professionals do. &#42

Brian Lock is investigating new grain marketing options this season, including a national pool.

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