2 January 1998


BUMPER wheat yields, fair potato prices from local chipping outlets and good back-end crop establishment leave the Symonds brothers, Andrew and Tony, of stourport, worcs, reasonably happy with 1997.

With next seasons seed potatoes bought well and other input costs, notably for herbicides, also on the slide they are not unduly pessimistic for 1998, says Tony. "If prices stay the same we could even be better off."

Some of the gilt has been shaved off the potatoes through pink rot affecting about 100t out of the 700t total. But for the sugar beet the TIM two-row tanker harvester has been a big help in its third season.

Care for the soil is increasingly to the fore at Lincomb. "We have had some vile lifting conditions." Dispensing with following trailers means structure damage has been confined to the headlands, he says.

The move to a front press and multi-harrow system for drilling the combinable crops has also proved well worthwhile. "We are very happy with the establishment this autumn at lower seed rates. After the wet even the crops on heavier ground do not seem too bad."

A decision to abandon December drilling means there will once again be a small slot for spring wheat, probably Chablis, which was quite rewarding last season.

Which way now? Brothers Andrew (left) and Tony Symonds think 1998 could be brighter than 1997, provided input costs stay low.

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