Trevor Horsnell, a former
Sugar Beet Grower of the
Year, part owns and rents
182ha (450 acres) at
Gorrells Farm, Highwood,
Chelmsford, Essex. Besides
beet, his cropping includes
potatoes and winter wheat,
barley and oilseed rape
THERE was definitely an air of spring in the air last week, which probably means that come the middle of March we will be in the grip of Jack Frosts icy fingers.
I have just returned from my much needed annual holiday (two weeks in the rain forests of Costa Rica and a few days in the urban jungle of Mexico City) to find the farm well looked after in my absence and the land drying out rapidly and more than fit to take a tractor.
While soil and weather are so good we are applying 70kg/ha of nitrogen to the rape and 0.5 litres/ha (0.4pt/acre) of clopyralid (Dow Shield) to fields which have mayweed or thistles present.
The Dutch Desiree potato seed I mentioned last month arrived bang on time and correctly graded into 5mm bands.
Like a lot of other seed potatoes these days, it is infected with rather more silver scurf than I would like to see. In a bid to get better control of the disease in our crop we have decided to use fenpiclonil (Gambit) at planting. To achieve this we are fitting a sprayer to the planter.
The final sugar beet yield was a slightly disappointing 57t/ha (23t/acre). Average sugar content was 18%, but fell from 19.3% to 16.8%.
Unseasonably high temperatures during November and December, combined with an over abundance of green material in the clamp due to difficult topping conditions, were the prime causes of this costly fall. Next season we intend to fit some ventilation stacks into the clamp.
Financial figures for the crop are also not what they were either. Well, at least I am sure I will be paying less for sugar in the shops. Maybe I will even get a rebate because I paid too much for sugar last year.
But then maybe Bill Clinton really is telling the truth. *
Trevor Horsnells potato seed arrived in fair order, apart from a bit of silver scurf.