John Best

5 October 2001

John Best

John Best farms 320ha

(791 acres) from Acton House

Farm, Pointspass, Co Down.

Wheat, conservation-grade

oats and potatoes are main

crops on his 220ha (544 acres)

of clay loam arable land

OUR last field of beans was combined late last week producing a pleasing 5.8t/ha (2.3t/acre), in sharp contrast to the lupins, which managed only 1.7t/ha (7cwt/acre).

In fairness to the lupins I must admit that management and herbicide damage both contributed to their demise. Wheat yields varied from 10.1t/ha (4.1t/acre) following beans to a low of 4.2t/ha (1.7t/acre). Unfortunately, the former was a 2.8ha field and the latter a 10ha one.

A 12-day spell of fantastic weather made combining a real pleasure, despite some average crops, and allowed me to enjoy the start of rugbys European Cup last weekend with a trip to Italy to see Ulster scrape home 33-28 against Treviso. Full marks to the weathermen, whose prediction of an Indian summer proved correct and my apologies for my cynicism about their forecasts in my last article.

While overall yields have been well down on previous years, there is some consolation in how well some of the January-drilled wheat performed. It did much better than the wheat which was "mucked in" during October and November, but I hope I do not have to draw on the experience again.

With grain and straw in good shape, mechanical set-backs were kept to a minimum. The new Welger belt Baler proved its capacity to gather a lot of straw in a day, producing a range of bale sizes to order from "6x4s" weighing 1t to "4x4s" weighing 220kg plus. As usual the combine discharge auger had to be dismantled on two occasions, but we have become quite adept at this operation, even in the dark, as it seems to be an annual event.

Ploughing and pressing wheat stubble is progressing well and we are drilling home-saved Gerald oats into this ground at 120kg/ha (1cwt/acre) to produce 220 seeds/sq m. That is the main variety, but Millennium will take 20ha (50 acres) after impressive standing ability and yield in trials despite a disappointing bushel weight of 51kg/hl. &#42

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