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In your field: Russell McKenzie - 'Soil temperatures need to rise'

Every week we follow the ups and downs of farmers around the country.

March is supposed to be the start of spring, right? Instead, it brought the Beast from the East and Arctic conditions, high winds and lots of snow for certain areas.

 

Fortunately, we only received a small amount, but still enough to cause a few issues.

 

What has been brilliant is the efforts by farmers in the worst affected areas to keep roads clear and tow stranded vehicles back to safety; surely the unsung heroes of this recent week.

 

I hope these actions are remembered by the rescued drivers when, during busy periods such as harvest, being stuck behind a tractor for a few minutes is only because someone is doing their job and, like this week, you might just be grateful to see them.

 

I have never known quite so many claims on outgoing grain as I have had recently, some perfectly legitimate and others downright questionable to say the least.

 

Two examples have been milling wheat. We had two loads go out of store with one rejected for 12 per cent protein; all the on-farm tests had shown the lowest was 12.7 per cent.

 

This was consequently redirected to another mill which, if it tested below 12.5, would accept down to 12. Low and behold it was 12.8 per cent.

 

Words fail me and, once more, this makes a compete mockery of the box-ticking exercise of retaining samples on-farm when they count for absolutely nothing in this type of situation.

 

Some low bushel weight Evolution, which I suspected was borderline, saw a subsequent load rejected and redirected to a storage facility which decided to reject it because it was ‘full of ergot’. I do not think so. I have seen virtually no ergot this year and certainly none in that store.

 

The heap was then resampled by the grain trader who could find none either. Is it not about time there was more transparency and trust in the grain chain, consistency in sampling and better communication?

 

Hopefully we will see the farm workload begin to pick up as the weather improves. Oilseed rape was just starting to move as the weather changed and we will be looking to front load any backward crops of both wheat and OSR with nitrogen to push canopy development.

 

I would like to see soil temperatures rise before we consider drilling, so fingers crossed for some nice weather. It is March after all.

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