9 October 1998


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

AUTUMN work proceeds at a pace here at Rosery Farm. For us it is always a busier time than harvest itself.

Cyril has done all the ploughing required for winter wheat and is now preparing seed-beds using either the Gaucho Tilthmaster, a levelling-board/tine/crumbler combination, or our Maschio power-harrow.

Oilseed rape was drilled a week later than normal, on Sept 9-10, due to unsettled weather. It seemed too risky to pull all the land down in front of the drill, so we hung our neighbours Accord drill on the back of the power-harrow to make our own combination outfit.

Angus spread on half-rate Exit (methiocarb) slug pellets using our Yamaha ATV a week after drilling, and so far the crop is coming through very well. Pellets are still visible on the surface, so hopefully no more will be needed.

Navajo is again our main variety, as local trial results showed it as the highest yielder, beating hybrids by a fair margin. We have also drilled one bag of Madrigal for our own comparison.

I know that three years ago, National Institute of Agricultural Botany variety trials at ADASBridgets in Hampshire, showed one particular hybrid variety yielding about 70% of the mean.

For reasons best known to themselves, NIAB chose not to publish this result, but averaged the figures from this site with two others thus presenting the hybrid in a better light.

We as farmers contribute substantially to the cost of these variety trials through the Home Growers Cereals Authority levy. If NIAB does not give us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it will soon lose the excellent reputation which it currently enjoys for publishing impartial and accurate results.

Come on NIAB, dont act like you are in the plant breeders pockets.

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 the Countryside

Steward scheme

ANOTHER month has flown by and a wet one with 7cm (2.9in) of rain, half as much again as our 18-year average for September. What with one thing and another we have got ourselves rather behind.

Oilseed rape is drilled, but slugs are the worst we have experienced and have forced a re-drill on one minimal cultivated field. Apex is still our main variety, with half our 127ha (314 acres) of commercial crops this year. Other varieties are Pronto, Madrigal, Panther and Elite, plus 8ha (20 acres) of Pronto for seed on some virgin ground. It has all been sprayed with Katamaran (metazachlor + quinmerac), which at 2 litres/ha is cheaper than 1.5 litres/ha of Butisan (metazachlor) and tackles both cleavers and poppies.

Spring linseed planted where we ploughed out a poppy infested rape crop was a total disaster. It took us three afternoons to cut just 15ha (37 acres), finishing on Sept 21 with a dismal average of 0.8t/ha (6cwt/acre).

By the time you read this we should be well into the wheat drilling. Varieties in order of area will be Abbot, Mallacca, Madrigal, Consort, Hereward, Claire and Savannah As usual 500kg (10cwt) of C1 seed of each variety will be planted for next years seed. The seed dressing is Beret Gold (fludioxonil), which we believe is the gentlest chemical on the emerging seedling.

We get our new tractor today, a four-wheel drive, 140hp, Case MX135. Our new dealer came up with a very sharp quote, and though Kim would have preferred the Fastrac for its stability and smoother ride, a price advantage of over £10,000 with the low wheat price meant the powers that be insisted on the Case.

Last months dig at the Dalgety seed boxes does not mean we have fallen out. We are having their local wheat trials at Gosmere and are growing 32ha (79 acres) of Punch beans for them, making this the ninth consecutive year of seed contracts with the company.

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

THE first ten days in September brought heavy driving rain and thick fog. With 186ha (460 acres) still to cut things were getting desperate. Half of the wheat was severely lodged and the rest looked rough.

On Sept 5, the offer of another combine was very welcome, but the snag was it was on our sister estate, Shottesbrooke in Berks. Calculating the transport cost as equal to contracting charges on just 30ha (75 acres) I decided to bring it up. The New Holland TX66 arrived on Sept 10 and two days later harvest re-started with three combines.

Five cracking dry days later it was all over, with every empty building space full of grain. The extra combine cut 63ha (155 acres) and I have no regrets about bringing it up. My thanks go to my colleagues down South for allowing me to make the most of the unexpected good weather.

As for crop quality, Chariot cut after the rain still made an average malting sample, at 1.6-1.7% nitrogen and 11% screenings. However, the last 150t of Prisma failed due to pre-germination and nitrogen rocketing to 1.90%, a common scenario across the region. Overall I expect yields to be about 0.75t/ha (0.3t/acre) down, at 5.5t/ha (2.2t/acre).

I am convinced strobilurins were a major factor behind wheat lodging. The crop was still green, heavy and immature when the rains came and over it went. Fortunately no sprouting took place during the ten sodden warm days that followed, and the crop yielded well with an average 72kg/hl.

We have a lot to learn regarding this chemistry. Although the end result was good, we cannot afford to push the harvest back in Scotland.

Potato lifting has been going well so far, with Desiree and Estima averaging 43t/ha (17.5t/acre) for seed and ware. But heavy rain has stopped us for now. The late-planted crops still to be lifted could be a different story.

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

SEPT was a very difficult month for harvesting here, and we still have Linola to cut. Showers in the first half of the month gave way to a lot of mist and very little sunshine in the second half.

Spring rape was snatched between the showers on Sept 7, but unfortunately the wet humid weather had already caused some germination in the pods.

Linseed had to wait another week for a dry spell, and even then an occasional light shower brought the combine to a rapid stop due to wrapping. The heavy land crop was not quite ready for harvest on the only sunny weekend of the month, and it took three afternoons to combine over the following misty week.

All the Linseed came in at between 12-15.5% moisture, and with the humidity close to 90%, it has taken a long time to dry in our continuous drier. That just leaves us with the Linola to harvest the next time we get a few dry sunny days together.

Sterile seed-beds on oilseed rape and pea stubbles have given quite a good weed germination, which was killed off with 3 litres/ha of Sting (glyphosate). The Dynadrive and rolls followed a few days later to incorporate the rubbish prior to drilling wheat.

Our first wheat went in on Sept 28-29 at 173kg/ha (1.4cwt/acre) aiming for a plant population of 250-270 plants per sq m. The Dynadrive worked the field directly in front of the combination drill, with cambridge rolls immediately behind. Having drilled the seed deeper than normal and produced a fine firm seed-bed I am hopeful life will be difficult for the slugs.

The oilseed rape is getting well established and will be sprayed as soon as possible now that we have had a rain to freshen it up. I expect we will have to use some slug pellets too as some rape in the area has been re-drilled due to slug damage.

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