James Hosking farms 516ha
(1275 acres) with his
parents and brother at
Truro, Cornwall. Land is
equally split between share
farming, various FBTs and a
tenancy. Crops include
wheat, oats, barley and
daffodils, alongside sheep
and cattle enterprises
SINCE the change in the weather at the beginning of May, we have had an extremely hectic three weeks. The drill, fertiliser spreader and sprayer have all been flying around the farm catching up our April backlog of work. I doubt if any tractor driver in this area saw much of their family over the May bank holiday.
We completed the nitrogen application to all winter cereals. The wheat has received 185-205kg/ha (148-164 units/acre) depending on previous cropping, the barley 155kg/ha (124 units/acre) and the oats 125 kg/ha (100units/acre).
Our fungicide programme is also up to date. The barley received a first spray of 0.5litres/ha Opus (epoxiconazole) plus 0.5litres/ha Corbel (fenpropimorph), followed up with 0.5litres/ha Opus on the flag leaf. The oats have received two applications of 0.33litres/ha of Alto (cyproconazole), primarily to control crown rust. The first was applied with the herbicide, either Swipe (bromoxynil + ioxynil + mecoprop-p) or cmpp (mecoprop-p) and the second with chlormequat at GS32.
What to use for the wheat fungicide programme has been a harder decision. We finally decided to go down the strobilurin route, but to a budget. Mantra (kresoxim-methyl + epoxiconazole + fenpropimorph) was applied first at 0.7litres/ha, followed by 0.5litres/ha at flag leaf.
Because the weather in April delayed the spray programme there were only 18 days between the late first application and flag leaf sprays on both wheat and barley.
Whilst we have been getting on with field work, the farm is dominated by our brassica module raising unit at this time of year. We produce about 21 million plants, mostly winter cauliflower and cabbage, which are supplied to growers here in the south-west. Of these, 13 million need to be delivered at the beginning of July. This gives my brother, who manages this enterprise, a logistical headache because they all have to be seeded and laid out in the tunnels in early May to be ready on time. The planting out date for these crops is critical for their success.
The peak time for the brassica seedling business has clashed with spray catch-ups for James Hosking and his brother at Fentongollan, Cornwall.