Mark Ireland

16 June 2000

Mark Ireland

Mark Ireland farms with

his father and brother at

Grange Farm, North

Rauceby, Lincs. Sugar beet

and barley are the core

crops on the 1004ha (2481

acres) heathland unit

APOLOGIES to those of you who have had too much rain, but this weather suits our farm "down to the ground".

There can be no excuses this year about poor grain fill due to lack of moisture on light heathland soils. So long as the sun remembers to shine at some stage before harvest, I see no reason why combining should not be an enjoyable experience this year.

Just to ensure that the rain did not stop I took a weeks holiday at the beginning of June. Being as adventurous as ever, we stayed at home with the farm radio off, mobile off, and my wife hiding truck keys to try to stop some evening field walking. We took the children for days out and to the coast, and, in between being told to keep my eyes on the road, one thing struck me nearly everywhere we went. There is a huge amount of blackgrass in crops. The past three years seem to have prompted an explosion of it, be it through the wet weather or more likely the fact that it has turned resistant.

Resistance was one of the many topics we covered on our BASIS course that finished with exams at the beginning of June. Well done to everybody. The 100% pass rate is an excellent reflection on the teaching standards of Simon Goodger and his colleagues at De Montfort University, Caythorpe. I recommend BASIS to all, not as a route to becoming a full-time agronomist but as a means for farmers to further knowledge. For example, understanding how blackgrass becomes resistant and why not only chemical but cultural methods should be used to control it.

Our farm stores are finally empty. Hereward averaged 8.17t/ha (3.3t/acre) at £98.17/t, nearly all over 14.3% protein. Optic spring barley, which was sold last October for delivery before the end of March, has gone into a merchants store. He is still awaiting instructions from the malsters but it has at least reduced our risk. &#42

Blackgrass is starting to show in many crops across the region, says newly BASIS qualified grower Mark Ireland, from Lincs.

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