FARMERFOCUS

21 September 2001




FARMERFOCUS

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

HARVEST finally ended on Sep 10 with Samoa spring wheat on land in conversion to organic. It produced a very bold sample but I had to keep reminding myself that it was worth £130/t as the yield was only 2.4t/ha (1t/acre).

Results across the rest of the farm have been very much like the curates egg – good in parts. Generally, spring drilled crops produced respectable yields despite late drilling. Optic spring barley did 5.7t/ha (2.3t/acre) with a very bold sample and, as predicted by Colin, one of the longer serving farm staff, the spring oilseed rape produced over 2.4t/ha (1.0t/acre). It has performed consistently over the years and has many advantages over our other spring break, peas, especially on stony ground.

Winter wheats were disappointing. I blame small ears and a lack of tillers as the very bold samples suggested no disease pressure at grainfill. I have been an advocate of reduced seed rates for a number of seasons and have seen great benefit from drilling down to 160 seeds/sq m for certain varieties in early September. But this season was too wet and cold to encourage tiller production and survival and thus benefit from any subsequent yield enhancements of reduced seed rates. There is always a risk associated with early drilled wheat and low seed rates. Crops drilled too thick too early can suffer from lodging, excessive disease pressure and subsequent yield loss. Let us hope that last seasons weather was the exception and not the rule.

So, in the hope of a reasonable winter and kind spring, we began drilling Consort wheat at 200 seeds/sq m on Sep 12 into clay cap overlying chalk. Adding a furrow press behind the plough has left the seed-beds much more firm and level than in the past. Such attention to detail when drilling at this time of year pays, I believe. Crops plonked into any old seed-bed do not offer the best chance of fulfilling the potential of their superior genetics or that of the modern fungicides. &#42

Drilling has started at Lee Farm Partnership with the furrow press helping to produce better seed-beds this autumn, says manager Patrick Godwin.

Kevin Littleboy

Kevin Littleboy farms 243ha

(600 acres) as Howe

Estates at Howe, Thirsk, N

Yorks. The medium sandy

loam in the Vale of York

supports potatoes, winter

wheat, rape and barley, plus

grass for sheep

MY SYMPATHIES go out to all those families, relatives and friends of those so tragically murdered in America. Numerous commentators have stated the free world democracy will change forever. While I dont wholly agree, I certainly think Western countries, including Britain, that harbour sympathisers of terrorist factions will have to reappraise their stance.

Is it right that this countrys tolerance has given Britain a reputation as a safe haven for world terrorism? Terrorist supporters in London and Manchester raise millions of £s annually from sympathetic migrant communities which is laundered through our financial institutions. That must be stopped immediately, as must state benefits to these supporters. Wake up Prime Minister, government and judiciary, let common sense return again to our shores.

Wheat yields have been a spectacular disaster due to autumn, winter and spring flooding. Not being one to fool myself with adjusting my yields to the harvestable areas or pub yields, they are based on the IACS areas. They range from 9.2t/ha (3.7t/acre) on land after oilseed rape drilled in September to 5.2t/ha (2.1t/acre) from April sown spring wheat on continuous wheat land.

How can we in the UK take the issues surrounding Europe and the impending introduction of the E seriously when even thieves wont nick the currency? A robber, after tying up the driver of a security van in Germany, swiped all the DMs but left the other half of the vans contents – Es – untouched. So there are honour and standards among thieves then?

Recently I was accosted in Thirsk marketplace by a well-educated and intelligent "gentleman of the road". The tramp shouted across the street: "Are you Kevin?" After I admitted to this dubious honour, he replied: "Ive read about you, jolly good, keep writing, keep the world moving upwards, bye-bye." And off he trundled to the next litter bin. FARMERS WEEKLY must either have incredible insulation value or maybe it is a sign of the times and he is an ex-farmer. Or both? &#42

Wheat yields, based on IACS areas, have been a spectacular disaster, says Kevin Littleboy.

Stephen Bumstead

Stephen Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from Ouse

Bank Farm, Great Barford,

Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

OUR harvest has become a long and drawn out affair again and as usual we will be the last in the area to finish.

April and early May drilled wheat was only just ready for pre-harvest glyphosate at the end of August so it is no surprise really. Ironically, these "cuckoo-corn" crops are yielding the best so far. I am not too surprised despite "expert" advice telling me that such late crops "dont do". However, I have to admit their saviour was 18mm (0.7in) of rain in a June thunderstorm. That gave the crops renewed vigour and as they rushed through their growth stages I rushed round topping up nitrogen in the hope of enhancing protein content in view of the improved yield potential.

Average wheat yield so far is about 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) with a high of 6.8t/ha (2.75t/acre) and disappointing low of 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre). Spring barley is having to wait until the wheat harvest is in. Given it was late April sown, endured a flush of wild oats that showed too late for remedy and suffered a late attack of rhynchosporium at ear just visible it is remarkably respectable. The rhynchosporium caused me to review my advised fungicide tank mix just before spraying.

The recent catastrophic and tragic events in the US slammed home hard that the unthinkable can happen even to an immense superpower, innocent citizens bearing the brunt of such mindless terrorism. Now we can never say it couldnt happen here. Our politicians should take heed of this dire, brutal warning. Recent attitudes to national security have been lax, almost cavalier.

Port of entry biosecurity has slipped, the armed forces are being run down and farming and home food production jeopardised through lack of political support.

I hope the Blair government can muster enough common sense to wake up to the fact that we are an island and therefore must maintain at least some independence of mainland Europe, especially when it comes to food and defence. &#42

Who said this cuckoo-corn wouldnt yield? Harvest is dragging on but late-sown wheat is proving some of the best at Ouse Bank Farm, says Stephen Bumstead.

Andrew Keeler

Andrew Keeler farms with

his parents at Church Farm,

Aylsham, Norfolk. Sugar

beet, potatoes, winter

wheat and premium malting

barley are grown on the

32ha (80-acre) farm

KIND weather allowed us to clear our wheat, all Claire, by the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend with only 20t needing drying. Yield across the field looks like 10-10.5t/ha (4-4.2t/acre). Sample results show 13% protein, 2.6% screenings and 176 Hagberg. We have decided not to sell at the moment, but we will be keeping a close watch on the market.

Harvest passed with only a couple of minor problems with the combine, both with the front end – a drive chain to the reel and a nylon bearing on the reel -which were soon fixed. As we pass mid-September there is still quite a bit of corn to cut in the area, both wheat and barley. Lets hope the "Indian summer" the weather people are talking about turns up soon so these crops can be got in.

The potatoes have plenty of moisture round the tubers so we have used Reglone (diquat) to desiccate the crop this year. Luckily there was a suitable dry and sunny day which was ideal for the job and the result has been a quick and even kill. Everything is on course for a start to lifting on Sep 24. All that is needed is for the weather to fall in line with our plans.

Our local sugar beet factory has announced it will be opening during the first week of October. With much beet drilled late or re-drilled it remains to be seen how many will be keen to make an early start. We will see how the weather goes and if we cannot get on with either potato harvest or drilling, and assuming that we can get on the beet land, we will make a start. Priorities have to be made at this time of year and potatoes come first, then drilling barley and wheat. However, Mother Nature usually takes a hand and all our best-laid plans go straight out of the window. &#42

Wheat yields hit 10t/ha for the second year running, says Andrew Keeler in north-west Norfolk.


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