Patrick Godwin

15 March 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

DARK, wet February "fill dyke" days have given way to a brighter drier March.

Our chalky soil on the downs dries out quickly and we have been able to drill 52ha (128 acres) of Optic spring barley. This was followed by 22ha (54 acres) of Paragon spring wheat on land in organic conversion. The Paragon is destined for whole-crop silage for the dairy cows. While I am tempted to undersow it with a white clover ley the whole crop will be taken in early July so we will have a good chance to drill the grass then. We have another 38ha (94 acres) of Paragon and 32ha (79 acres) of Optic which should be in within the next week.

It is becoming apparent just how much gout fly infestation we have this year. The fly lays its eggs on the emerging plant in September and the maggot burrows into the plant resulting in the classic dead-heart symptoms and a stumpy gouty appearance. In the past infestation has been relatively low and the main tiller has taken over from the main stem with no yield loss. This year we have fields with 8-10 plants/sq m affected. Will that lead to yield loss and what can we do about it? Any answers gratefully received.

The spin doctors have been busy again. Just as it looked like the Press were getting the upper hand in the sordid Stephen Byers affair out came the old chestnut of the Hunting debate. Nothing like a contentious issue to take the press pack off the scent.

But just as the real scent has been poor here in Sussex, the press were only deflected for a few days. Most of the opinion polls I have seen say that the middle way is popular with the public. It would seem that those wanting a total ban are in the minority. Time to dig out the marching boots and banners methinks. &#42

No gout fly here, but winter cereals have 8-10 plants/sq m affected on the Angmering Estate, Sussex, says farm manager Patrick Godwin.

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