Paul Warburton farms
208ha (514 acres) of mostly
chalky loam at North Farm,
Shillingford Hill, near Oxford.
He is an owner-occupier,
running the business in
partnership with his wife
Hilary. Cropping includes
feed wheat, feed barley
and oilseed rape
HARVEST has come and gone for another year, finishing on Aug 21 on our modest 107ha (265 acres).
Winter barley disappointed at 6.5t/ha (2.6t/acre) plus a meagre 2.5t/ha (1t/acre) of straw baled and carted for sale. Apex winter oilseed rape averaged 3.7t/ha (30 cwt/acre), Soissons winter wheat 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) with excellent Hagberg and protein and the Consort and Savannah varied between 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) and 10.4t/ha (4.2t/acre).
Considering the weather over the past 12 months, overall I would say it was a pleasing result. Our Claas 96 combine completed its 17th season without incident except for needing a new front chopper belt, which seems to go about every 80ha (200 acres). The Opico mobile dryer again scored top marks. American engineering at its best – strong and simple.
Between days of cutting, Chris and I pushed on with ploughing using two Lemken four-furrow reversibles and presses. Power-harrowing followed and farm-saved Escort oilseed rape drilled at 6kg/ha (5.5lb/acre). We sprayed it straight away with Katamaran (metazachlor + quinmerac) at 2 litres/ha, justifying the extra cost over Butisan (metazachlor) in an attempt to combat an increasing and unacceptable level of cleavers in the sample.
Our hectare of semi-dwarf Lutin is also sown at just 3.6kg/ha (3.25lb/acre), the absolute minimum setting on our Accord drill. All the oilseed rape was sprayed for flea beetles last week and slug patrols continue with little sign of them so far.
Attention is now on getting Claire wheat in and as of Monday we have only one field to go. Seed rate is 130 seeds/sq m, about 67kg/ha (0.6cwt/acre), higher than I had hoped but lack of rain made achieving fine seed-beds tricky. However, that is still one-third less than last year, representing a significant saving. Some locals on sandy loams are down to 80 seeds/sq m I gather. Hairy stuff.
Chris, our harvest help, has now left for a permanent job in Wales, leaving me alone to enjoy my own company on the farm and a much needed holiday at the end of the month. *