Jim Macfarlane is farm
manager at Edrington
Berwickshire. Two-thirds of
the 275ha (680-acre) unit
is arable, with winter wheat
the main breadwinner,
complemented by malting
barley, winter rape and peas
MY! Your barleys shot early this year," remarked a neighbour recently.
"Er, well, thats a field of wheat actually," was my embarrassed reply. Embarrassed, not by my neighbours ignorance, but by the appalling number of barley volunteers in my wheat this year.
We always have volunteers but this year they are quite out of control. I offer three explanations.
1 We do not have time to germinate and kill off volunteers.
2 We grow too much six-row barley.
3 We have a big hole in our combine.
As for number one, I really envy people in the south who can combine in the middle of July, then have five weeks to kill off volunteers before establishing rape.
We usually have about 10 days between winter barley harvest and sowing rape, during which time we have to cut our rape, too.
As for number two, we can get astronomical yields of six row barley so I shall continue growing it.
Number three? Pass me the duct tape!
On a more serious note, I am livid about the governments plans for a tax on chemicals. This would leave us at a serious disadvantage in Europe, but I feel the proposals will get a lot of support from the misguided majority who still think all farm chemicals are evil. Do they really believe we splash-on these chemicals just for fun?
I reckon those we ingest voluntarily after every visit to our doctor are of much more concern. Even the environmental benefits of a tax would be very limited. Making farmers worse off is not the way to protect the environment.
We are currently treating our Chariot barley with Punch C and Boscor at low rates, our winter barley and wheat with Mantra, and our peas with Fortrol and Pulsar. Falcon, Cheetah, Starane, Ally and Swipe have all been used in the past fortnight along with Konker, Round-up and Terpal. I wonder how much more I would have paid for that lot under the governments plans? *
Jim Macfarlanes wheat contains far more winter barley volunteers than he would like. Government plans for an input tax add to the gloom.