Dennis Ford

1 May 1998

Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

CONSIDERING all the rain we have had since I last wrote, we have had a busy time.

The Ark is now nearing completion and the animals have been selected out of a list including two guinea pigs, two cats, one dog and a certain number of grain mites! We are looking for volunteers to man it. Any offers?

We managed to complete some spraying and fertilising, often in less than favourable conditions. The winter rape had 0.5litres/ha of Folicur (tebuconazole) and 0.1 litres/ha of Fastac (alpha-cypermethrin) with some copper and trace elements. There were signs of alternaria and botrytis, and on field inspection we found some pollen beetles too. Copper was added as a precaution because the crop is on light downland.

The winter wheats are being treated for septoria and rusts with Epic (epoxiconazole) at 0.35litres/ha, not only for its efficacy but also as it has come down in price. First wheats are receiving first nitrogens where we can travel, 86kg/ha (69 units/acre) of a total 216kg/ha (173 units/acre). Second wheats had the same three weeks ago, and will get a top-up to 187kg/ha (150 units/acre) total as soon as we catch up with our work load.

The Optic spring barley, despite little movement in the past two weeks, is now ready for a general broad-leaf weed spray, probably Harmony M (metsulfuron-methyl + thifensulfuron-methyl). One of the headlands needs Tigress (diclofop-methyl + fenoxaprop-P-ethyl) for very bad blackgrass infestation.

Winter beans are beginning to grow, but are not overly forward. No disease is apparent but cleavers are beginning to appear. These may need to be treated with a dose of Basagran (bentazone) if the weather warms up.

On the very low ground Rifle winter barley has not received a treatment of anything since February, mainly for fear of losing the Frazier Agribuggy. Hopefully it will get its remaining nitrogen soon and a spray for wild oats, which are now beginning to look like Triffids.

The Frazier Agribuggy has not been on low-lying barley since February for fear of losing it in the mud, says Wilts farmer Dennis Ford. But it has been busy spraying winter oilseed rape.

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