FARMERFOCUS

11 September 1998




FARMERFOCUS

Leonard Morris

Leonard Morris is tenant at

206ha (510-acre) White

House Farm, South Kyme

Fen, Lincoln. His heavy land

grows winter wheat and

oilseed rape and spring peas

and linseed. Lighter ground

is cropped with potatoes,

spring rape and linseed

THE first half of August was dry and sunny but unfortunately no crops were ready for combining. The second half and the start of September has brought us 4.5cm (1.8in) of rain and much frustration.

We started August by cutting all the set-aside. On Aug 8 we harvested the first seed peas, taking the rest a week later. They have not enjoyed the year averaging about 1.5t/ha (0.6t/acre). I hear vining peas have also been very poor around here.

We began wheat on Aug 14 with 9mm (0.4in) of rain promptly following. My earlier fears of lack of sunshine affecting yields seem to have come true with only 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) from Rialto, and about 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre) from Riband and Consort. That leaves us with an average just over 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) for wheat, which seems about average for this area.

Heavy rain from Aug 23 stopped harvesting until the bank holiday. But late working and busy driers mean most wheat is finished in this area though uncut fields are turning black.

The wet week gave us time to get winter oilseed rape drilled. We had a local contractor bale the straw and remove it to see if less surface trash would give us better establishment this year. The stubbles were then cultivated twice with the DynaDrive before being sown with the combination drill and rolled.

We are growing Apex again and trying some Synergy. Base fertiliser is delivered in bulk and spread by contractors. This has worked well in the past. But this time they did not turn up when promised, and took a lot of tracking down. This delayed drilling unnecessarily. If they had contacted me I could have made other arrangements. As it was I got very annoyed and things will have to change.

We are currently waiting for weather dry enough to harvest spring rape and linseed, both of which have been desiccated.

William Hamilton

William Hamilton is tenant

on the 205ha (506-acre)

Rosery Farm, Little

Stonham, Stowmarket,

Suffolk. Main crops are

winter wheat and oilseed

rape but he also grows

winter beans and

vining peas

HARVESTING the wheat was a doddle this year, with only two hold ups.

Rain delayed the combine for a day-and-a-half, and a broken water-pump drive-belt resulted in two hours of down time. It really was an inexpensive harvest, with only a little of the crop requiring drying.

After our wheats, Angus went on to help the local smallholder finish his harvest before returning to combine our badly laid winter beans. The headlands were the most difficult, but once into the crop, Angus could combine from the most effective direction to pick the crop up.

I sympathise with farmers further north, where I understand much of the harvest is still to be done under difficult conditions.

Two surprises from this years harvest are worth mentioning. First, only 1.5t/ha (0.6t/acre) separated our best wheat from the worst, and second, Equinox and Charger second wheats outyielded those as first wheats.

The only explanation I can come up with for this strange situation is that we over-estimated the amount of nitrogen in the soil for first wheats, perhaps due to heavy rain around Easter, after we had decided how much top dressing to apply.

With such uniform yields it is difficult to pick out varieties which performed well or badly. I think NIAB need to revise the standing ability score for Savannah, as our crop lodged quite badly, but, despite this, bushel weight exceeded 80kg/hl, an excellent result for a feed variety.

I was sufficiently pleased with Claire wheat that I will be growing it on seed contract on a quarter of our acreage this autumn.

This harvests seed crops have not all made the grade; one lot of Equinox was rejected due to cleavers in the sample. So it has not all been plain sailing, even here in the east.

Mike Cumming

Mike Cumming is manager at

Lour Farms, Ladenford,

Forfar, Angus, where spring

malting barley and seed

potatoes occupy about half

the 749ha (1850 acres).

Other crops include winter

wheat, barley and oats,

oilseed rape, swedes and

grass

WE are still waiting for summer to begin in Scotland. May, June and July have been consistently damp and overcast. North of the border, harvest has been ten days late, stop-start and, for me at least, lacked the positive tonic it usually brings.

As I write, on Sept 1, the rain is blowing like sleet and has laid 60% of the wheat flat. Heaven knows what morning will bring. It was 10 days from cutting before this monsoon started.

Winter barley harvest started Aug 7, yielding 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) at 61kg/hl specific weight, no worse than expected. Commanche rape, which lodged badly in May due to sleet, left the combine insides looking like a forage harvester, despite desiccation with 3 litres/ha of Harvest (glufosinate-ammonium) 16 days previously. Although losses were high, yield at 3.6t/ha (29cwt/acre) made the budget we set in May.

We started spring malting barley on Aug 20, and to date have cut three-quarters of our 290ha (715acres). Considering the summer, yields and screenings are better than expected.

Chariot is yielding at least 5.6t/ha (2.25t/acre), averaging 10.2% screenings through a 2.5mm screen, and a rather high 1.65% nitrogen. Under-sown Prisma is yielding less, and has cost nearly twice as much in fungicides, at £34/ha (£13.75/acre). However screenings are lower, and it is at least four days earlier than the Chariot.

I expected this season to produce low nitrogen, high screenings samples, but the reverse is true. Reducing the seed rate to 215kg/ha (1.75cwt/acre) plus two protective doses of flusilazole during the season definitely helped grain size, and I am convinced our conventional drilling system, which produces immature grains in the wheelings, is to blame for higher nitrogen.

As a result, after 18 months of agonising, demonstrations and many days of serious thought, I replaced our Accord DC with a 4m (13ft) Amazone RPD drill combination. The justification for the new drill is that establishment must not be a compromise. Autumn drilling will tell us if we have made the right choice.

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, last years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Steward scheme

AS I write, all that is left to harvest is 15ha (37acres) of linseed, having finished Punch winter beans, yielding 5.09t/ha (2.1t/acre) yesterday, Sept 1.

Wheat has done well, with an average yield of 10.1t/ha (4.1t/acre). The gamble of growing 83ha (205 acres) of Abbot paid off, averaging 10.5t/ha (4.3t/acre). Our best field did 11.25t/ha (4.6t/acre) at 11.6% protein, 334 Hagberg, and 79kg/hl specific weight. I hope we get the same result when it is on the lorry!

Other yields were as follows: Madrigal 11.65t/ha (4.7t/acre), Reaper 11.4t/ha (4.6t/acre), Brigadier/Hussar 10.45t/ha (4.2t/acre), Consort 10.15t/ha (4.1t/acre), Charger 9.0t/ha (3.6t/acre), and Soissons 9.5t/ha (3.8t/acre).

Next season, Group 1 varieties Abbot, Hereward and Malacca, will make up 75% of our wheat. The rest will be soft feeds, Consort, Claire, and Madrigal. Although our own Malacca did not yield very well, locally it has done very well and being as early as Soissons with short stiff straw makes it ideal before rape. We also found Madrigal short and easy to grow, but Abbot will need a better timed growth regulator programme next spring.

The cost of missing the ideal timing with chlormequat was lodged crops and masses of straw. On top of rock-hard ground this is making sowing rape difficult.

Our three year-old Overum plough has succumbed to the hard going, which has cracked the main beam in two costing £750 to repair. On the other hand, our Claas Mega 204 combine has just completed 440ha (1100 acres) in its fifth season, with only a brief hitch to replace the engine tailshaft bearing.

We are still looking to change our 5104 Case tractor. The new toy on the block is a Valmet, available in Claas green. Interesting.

My moan of the month is directed at Dalgety. When we are all asked to not waste materials, why do they put perfectly good bags of rapeseed in cardboard boxes?

It is raining now, our first real rain since July 20.


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