Peter Hogg

17 August 2001

Peter Hogg

Peter Hogg farms in

partnership with his brother

at Causey Park Farm, near

Morpeth, Northumberland.

Half the 450ha (1100 acre)

heavyland farm is in

crops, mainly winter wheat, barley and oilseed rape,

plus a few potatoes

ONCE bitten, twice shy, goes the saying. Well, like many others we were well and truly bitten by last seasons appalling weather. Anxious not to find ourselves in the same predicament this year, steps have been taken to make sure that no opportunities are missed.

I have even bought a new box of welding rods so instant repairs can be made to our old and clapped out equipment.

Actually, that is the only step Ive taken. I know that many foolish people will jump on the bandwagon of early sowing this year. I know it will be done against much advice because of the increased risks of disease and attack by insects, slugs and pigeons. I know that crops that are too forward will be more susceptible to "winter kill" and if it is a mild winter they will probably all go flat before next harvest.

But then if I know all that, whatever possessed me to sow our set-aside with oilseed rape on Aug 1 you may ask? On the same day this years crop was still being swathed. Answers on a postcard… No, on second thoughts, dont answer that please.

Harvest started here on Aug 3 and we managed just 10ha (25 acres) of Intro winter barley before rain stopped play.

The going is extremely slow and tedious due to the enormous amount of meadow grass present – the combine knife wasnt designed to cut hay. Yield is about 3.6t/ha (1.5t/acre). Can I blame the weather or am I doing something wrong?

I remember growing Igri, which despite the weather and despite me not having a clue as to what inputs to give it, always yielded 7.4t/ha (3t/acre). What have the greedy overgrown plant breeders given us over the past 20 years? Not much I would say. And now they have got support from DEFRA in their quest to track down non-payers of royalties. You have been warned. &#42

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