Jim Bullock farms 283ha
(700 acres) in partnership
with his parents and brother
at Mill Farm, Guarlford,
Malvern, Worcs. Two-thirds
is rented or contract farmed,
the rest owned. Cropping is
winter wheat, winter oilseed
rape and winter beans
JUST one more spraying day and we would have been up to date; but then the wind, rain and snow intervened.
We did cover the urgent jobs, including treating the blackgrass and wild oats missed last autumn. Forward wheat crops have had Cycocel (chlormequat + choline chloride) and Eagle (amidosulfuron) where poor cleavers control in a previous bean crop had left a problem.
I was pleased we managed to get the spring beans drilled when it was still dry – we had 48mm (2in) of rain at the beginning of last week. The no-till drill easily put them in the required 75mm (3in), into moisture, after just one pass with the discs. They have since been sprayed with a mixture of simazine and Bullet (cyanazine + pendimethalin) for weed control.
The wet weather has meant we have had time to finish constructing our Lo-Till Rake, a heavy harrow designed to redistribute straw and chaff behind the combine and create a mini seed-bed at the same time. That should encourage weed seeds and volunteers to grow. It is a fairly common device in America and Europe, and could be the key to making No-Till drilling foolproof under UK conditions.
It was a strange sight last week to see our oilseed rape in flower with the snow-covered Malvern Hills in the background. Is it global warming? Overnight frosts and cold days mean the pod set will be low, I fear. Our poorest looking, later-drilled, later-maturing, pigeon-grazed crops, will probably turn out to be the top yielders.
I am fed up with hearing about the problems at Rover. According to MAFF figures, 22,000 jobs were lost in farming in the year to June 1999, mostly due to our industrys efficiency. Rover jobs are being lost due to inefficiency, yet few workers will leave without a substantial redundancy payment and millions will be poured into the affected areas for retraining and so on. Few of those leaving farming will get a thing. *
Early oilseed rape crops are in flower on Jim Bullocks Worcs farm, but with snow on the hills last week, pollination could be poor, he fears.