Jean-Charles Renaudat

10 May 2002

Jean-Charles Renaudat

Jean-Charles Renaudat

farms 560ha (1384 acres)

of brash land 300km south

of Paris. Continuous wheat

has recently been replaced

by a wide-range of

combinable crops

WE have had only 14mm (0.6in) of rain in the past 46 days, so we are now talking about a drought.

It is always a difficult decision whether and when to start irrigating. There is the extra workload all week long, including sometimes night work, and, because once a water stressed plant receives irrigation it has to be satisfied all its cycle long, once we start we are committed to keeping going for months.

Anyway, our irrigators are now out, working first in rye crops then moving on to winter beans and fenugreek. Oilseed rape is being sacrificed for the moment.

The variable cost to apply 30mm with this type of high-pressure reel irrigator, including power and manpower to move it, is about £5/ha. With the current price of cereals I am not sure to cover this expense. Fortunately, the fixed costs are very low, because most of the investment in irrigation equipment is fully written off.

The drought has induced many changes in our spraying strategy. Up to now no crops have been "fungicided". Rye received a half-dose of ethephon (2-choroethylphosphonic acid + mepiquat chloride: As in Terpal) mid-April, but the weather was so cold and dry I doubt it has had much effect.

Resistant blackgrass has been less of a problem thanks to the weather pattern this year and the new "sulfo" armoury which seems to bring some solutions. Lexus (flupyrsulfuron-methyl) has done a good job especially when used in March. Results were less consistent when applied earlier. Brome grasses are also under control following enhanced germination before drilling with a shallow pass of the heavy harrows.

A great milestone for this farm was achieved last week with the first on-farm de-hulling of spelt wheat and millet from last harvest. This is the way I want to move the business in future, adding value to the raw material that we produce in our fields, and offering our customers better traceability from field to shop shelf. &#42

"Up to now no crops have been fungicided," says Jean-Charles Renaudat from central France, where drought is beginning to bite.

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