2 January 1998


POOR prices undermined a good harvest at Wood Farm, Bluntisham, Cambs, this season, sending profits crashing – Philip Godfrey hopes for better this year.

"Crops established very well last season. We had enough rain in September to get them going. That helped them through the dry spring, and they soon perked up after rain in June to produce a very useful harvest."

Oilseed rape gave 4.3t/ha (35cwt/ acre), peas 6.5t/ha (2.6t/acre) and wheats averaged 9t/ha (3.6t/acre).

"It was the year of the strobilurins. They gave definite yield advantages." In farm trials, two products applied at half-rate to wheat boosted yield by almost 1t/ha (8cwt/acre). They were also used in combination with triazoles on two-thirds of the commercial crop.

"We have sold some crop, but not enough. Marketing is now the key to good returns." Half the Hereward milling wheat was sold a few £ short of the £110/t budget, and some Rialto made £8/t less.

Oilseed rape and peas made £155/t and £117/t, respectively. But that will do little to help – profits will be down to a third of those achieved in the past two seasons, Mr Godfrey reckons.

"Crops are looking good so far this season. We need them to be." Cheaper inputs will help a bit, though fixed costs are the main target. It will take a weaker £ to bring real benefits, he says.

Super responses to wheat fungicides were not enough to lift the gloom from 1997 results for Cambs grower Philip Godfrey.

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