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In Your Field: Russell McKenzie - 'It is important to focus on the positives'

Not the same early finish to harvest this year as last, but all finished in good time and I would sum up harvest performance overall with a ‘good’ rating, rather than vintage.

Wheat, as mentioned in my last column, has performed well. Spring and winter beans were a little disappointing, but this is possibly not surprising, considering the dry early season conditions.

 

I mentioned the weather, as I often do, having been extreme over one weekend with wind and rain, but I now refer to it rather than the night of a thousand knives as the weekend of several thousand pounds.

 

The wind that weekend knocked a lot of ripe spring barley heads off and resulted in shedding of ripe seed in oat and wheat crops as well. It was horrible to see and, just to get an idea of the impact, I took my crop walking hoop out to gauge potential losses.

 

Spring barley was between 1.25-1.5 tonnes/hectare, winter wheat (not all varieties) between 0.75 1.2t/ha and 0.6t/ha on spring oats.

 

Having worked out the lost tonnages, I reckon it cost us between £35,000-£40,000, including a delay in planting the last of the oilseed rape on one block which is now midway through a losing cause against flea beetle.

 

Nothing could be done about it and that is the risk with farming, but we live to fight another day and it is important to focus on the positives rather than get dragged down by negative factors you have no control over.

 

Talking of positives, there were some terrific results from our variety/input trial that was great to see after so much hard work had gone into it this season.

 

Those who have followed the progress updates on Twitter will have an idea of what it was about.

 

Basically, 11 varieties with differing treatments from just nutrition through to a seasonal reaction programme.

 

SDHI treatments (T1 and T2) were all similar from the three manufacturers at 2.7t/ha, the best was my seasonal approach with triazole plus strobilurin plus chlorothalonil at T1 and T2, followed by an SDHI at T3. It returned on average 4.35t/ha, with almost a 7t/ha response on dirtier varieties.

 

There is a clear synergy between a good disease profile and response and it is abundantly clear that investing in fungicides, even on clean varieties, will always give you a solid return on investment.


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