Tim Piper

12 October 2001

Tim Piper

Tim Piper farms at

Churchlands on the edge

of Romney Marsh, Kent.

Wheat, barley, oilseed rape,

herbage seed and vining

peas occupy 890ha

(2200 acres) of the

1105ha (2730-acre) unit

I SPOKE too soon in my last article – drilling was progressing nicely, then 90mm (3.5in) of rain took land from too dry to too wet in no time at all.

Initially it was very welcome, as we had just reached a block of land that was rather cloddier than I would have liked. We had resorted to using a double culti-press to achieve a reasonable seed-bed. But the wet weather continued and we arrived at the same block of land where we ground to a halt last year with, as one of my neighbours put it, "a slight deja vu feeling".

Why is an Indians skin dark when his summers are so short? No, that is not the beginning of a joke, but as the weather forecasters had promised us an Indian summer, which has not materialised, I still regard their ability to forecast weather as a joke.

As I write we have managed to start drilling again and with only a small amount of winter barley and wheat behind maize left to drill we are in a substantially better position than we were this time last year. Most of the crops drilled so far have had a pre-emergence spray except for 40ha (100 acres) which took just five days from drilling to emergence, a period which coincided with the wet weather.

That will have to be done post-emergence, but fortunately we do not have a blackgrass problem, so a cheap-and-cheerful ipu/dff mix should do the job.

We have achieved excellent control of flea beetle in oilseed rape this year with the use of Chinook (imidacloprid + betacyfluthrin) seed-dressing. But I have to say that when the plants emerged they did look under stress with very dark leaves. That suggests to me that the Chinook might be a bit hot. Now the oilseed rape is making good progress and we are applying 37kg/ha (30 units/acre) of nitrogen to ensure good ground cover and deter the flocks of pigeons that will no doubt arrive as the winter sets in. &#42

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