Yields pleasing despite clouds casting shadow
Inaccurate weather forecasts added to the frustration
of a late wet harvest for farmers weekly barometer grower
Matthew Hanson, at Rock Farms, near Alnwick. But
yields have been good. Andrew Swallow reports
Diabolical weather has severely delayed crop establishment at Rock Farms. At least crops will be easier to manage next spring, reflects manager Matthew Hanson (below).
HOPELESS weather forecasts compounded the frustration of a late wet harvest at Rock Farms, this years farmers weekly barometer farm for the north.
But yields have been good and all bar the organic wheat should be drilled by the end of October, says farmers weekly barometer grower Matthew Hanson.
"The weather forecasts have been absolutely rubbish – no use at all if you are trying to plan in a catchy harvest," he fumes. "The worst was Farmgate on the internet. I think the sun icon must have been stuck on Berwick."
Berwick upon Tweed is only 25 miles from Rock, but the farm recorded 136mm (5.6 in) of rain in September – "a lot when you dont start harvest until September".
Wheat left at 23% moisture on the strength of a good forecast early in the month ended up being combined at 25-26% towards the end of the month. Harvest finally finished on Oct 19 with spring beans, the wheat having been cleared on Oct 6.
Claire averaged 11.5t/ha (4.7t/acre), ahead of Consorts 11.1t/ha (4.5t/acre). But the Consort included some second wheat, and later drilled first wheats after beans and potatoes. Victor spring beans did about 5t/ha (2.1t/acre) and should make a human consumption premium, while Regina barley produced 9.9t/ha (4t/acre) of a high nitrogen malting quality.
"Everything did well except for the peas. They did about 0.5t/acre which just about covered the cost of combining them."
But for drying costs, the farms 466ha (1150 acres) of arable would be about £30,000 up on budget after this harvest, says Mr Hanson. However, 2000t of drying at about £13/t, and the 18ha (45 acres) of peas will cancel out the yield gains, he predicts.
"We are going to be back at square one and we are way behind our work schedule for next years crops – we spent most of September in the workshop. I cannot believe you can drill this late without losing some yield."
However, the late drilling will make for easy to manage crops next spring, he believes.
Only half the intended 120ha of Escort and Madrigal oilseed rape was drilled before Mr Hansons Sept 15 cut-off date for establishment. Jalna oats have been drilled as a take-all break on the remainder. Wheats are again Consort and Claire, with slightly more of the latter, which will get a stronger dose of mildewicide next.
With better weather since Oct 11, drilling was on schedule to be finished by the end of the month. But many fields have had to be established with the old system of ploughing with the power harrow/drill combination following close behind.
"Weve drilled about 500 acres with the Vaderstad – all the oilseed rape, wheat after rape, and wheat after beans."
About half the wheat that has emerged has had a herbicide mix of 3 litres/ha ipu, 2 litres/ha trifluralin, 25g/ha dff. "That works out at under £6/acre."
Rough stalked meadow grass can come through that, so the ipu rate is raised where it is a problem, usually on the heavier land. Cleavers, volunteer beans and wild oats are cleared up in the spring.
Oilseed rape has already had two herbicide hits; Fusilade (fluazifop-P-butyl) at 0.15 litres/ha taking out the first flush of barley with 1 litre/ha of Catamaran (metazachlor + quinmerac) for the cleavers. Falcon (propaquizafop) at 0.2 litres/ha followed in the third week of October.
Phoma is just starting to come into the 5-7 leaf stage crops. Madrigal is showing slightly more than Escort and Plover (difenconazole) will go on at 0.2-0.25 litres/ha when infections show on 10% of plants. "That should cost about £3/acre, and also control light leaf spot."
• Oct 6 finished wheat combining.
• Oct 19 finished cutting beans.
• Massive yields and costs.
• Drilled up by end Oct.