Stephen Bumstead

27 July 2001

Stephen Bumstead

Stephen Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from Ouse

Bank Farm, Great Barford,

Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

THE rain arrived and my parched spring crops lapped it up. It was desperately needed but would have been timelier had it arrived two weeks earlier. Now the question is:Does the weather know when to turn off the tap?

However, both wheat and barley have benefited greatly, especially the later drilled fields. Most of these later established crops had just one fungicide – 0.25 litres/ha of Mantra (kresoxim-methyl + epoxiconazole + fenpropimorph) on the wheat at ear emergence and 0.3 litres/ha of Corbel (fenpropimorph) plus 0.3 litres/ha of Amistar (azoxystrobin) for Optic barley at awns visible. Unless the weather stays wet for the next fortnight, those treatments will see us through to harvest.

Over the past month, I have been monitoring orange blossom midge and general aphid activity. Although pockets of the midge were spotted they were confined to headlands bordering the River Ouse and tree sheltered areas. Treatment was, of course, out of the question.

Meanwhile, the numerous aphid predators residing in our field margins are dining out on pre-threshold numbers of aphids saving me money and a sprayer pass. You dont keep a dog and bark yourself, as they say.

The silly season is almost here. Freak hailstorms forecast to coincide with oilseed rape swathing, politicians doing and saying daft things and arable farmers getting ready for the harvest and autumn drilling campaign. Meanwhile, the urban population takes a break overseas on the back of the over-valued £.

Top of my list in the silly stakes are the senior grain traders employed by one or two of the larger merchants. You can set your clock by them. Every year, in late June/early July they insist there are bumper crops out there.

Viewed from a Bavarian sports saloon with ultra low-profile tyres passing by at high speed even my thin-stand wheat crops would look barn busters. I fear the view from the combine will be rather different. &#42

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