Mark Ireland

14 September 2001

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

Work is going well, a new cropping year bringing renewed vigour and enthusiasm to all that we do. Drilling progresses at a pace, the weather for once being helpful and everyone is working extremely hard.

However, harvest isnt quite over, with a field of spring oilseed rape and one of linseed left. Although desiccated these still look some way off.

Our Hereward and Malacca wheats averaged 7.3t/ha (2.95t/acre), 13% down on our five-year average. Despite starting at 21% moisture because we had found the odd sprouting grain, Hagbergs in the Hereward were marginal at 190-260. I always knew last years 500t that we kept in store would come in handy for a bit of blending.

The speed at which these Hagbergs dropped is worrying. We cut at the first opportunity, indeed our neighbours probably wondered what on earth we were doing, but still quality has been reduced. I know the weather has a big part to play but I am beginning to wonder if the strobilurin used at T3 could also be to blame.

Overall, harvest didnt produce much joy. However, one local growers comment did bring a smile to my face. "I didnt realise wheat was capable of yielding as little," he said.

While cutting wheat, we had a Claas Lexion 480 on demonstration for half a day. What a superb piece of equipment. I cannot find fault with our own TX66s which, with 1900 hours on the clock, still cost just £1.75/ha in repairs this harvest. But the output of the Lexion was unreal and ease of operation made the drivers task a pleasure. Im sure there were bad points, but half a day wasnt long enough to find them.

Newly sown Fortress oilseed rape has been very well treated by the weather with 16mm (0.6in) of rain falling immediately after drilling. Establishment is good and flea beetle seed dressing seems to be working – the only pests attacking it are rabbits down one headland. &#42

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