With the possible exception of beans suffering more foot-rotting than we would like, most of our autumn-sown crops seem to be thriving from the continued week-on, week-off winter. As we move into mid-February, the cereals and what remains of our rape are looking green, healthy and full of promise, without that yellow and hungry look they so often have at this time of year.
With little activity taking place on-farm, bar loading the last lot of beans and oats along with taking delivery of spring seed, it has been a good opportunity to attend as many meetings and conferences as possible.
As I write, at the beginning of February, crops are just starting to get moving, albeit very slowly due to conditions turning rather wet, and at times quite cold. However, it’s only a matter of time until the weather starts changing and crops begin to grow at a serious rate of knots.
I am pleased to say my New Year’s resolution has taken a turn for the better and I have now lost 8kg since January 9. It has not been easy, but I am determined to continue and keep the weight off this time, but with several social events coming up it will be difficult. I will just to have hope that with spring work and lambing around the corner I can work it off.
The fall in the value of sterling and no pre-harvest forward sales had left me feeling pretty smug. My marketing inactivity was a piece of inspired genius, and the uplift in grain prices is going at least some way to mitigate the disappointing yield from last harvest.
We have our annual farm assurance (Red Tractor) inspection during the first week in December. This coincides with my first New Year’s resolution: to keep all of our spray and fertiliser records up-to-date.
Winter has finally arrived allowing sprayers to be put to bed for a well-earned rest following a very hectic period of work facilitated by the unusually open autumn.
A year of change both politically and agriculturally is how I would sum up 2016.
Good, steady rainfall from the end of October has made all the difference to our later-sown oilseed rape and rewarded our patience in holding off on so much of our wheat drilling. And even up to 50mm of rain in 48 hours from the first named storm of the season last week did not dampen our spirits.
As we head into late autumn, most oilseed rape crops are finally growing away from the intense flea beetle pressure of earlier in the season. Later drilled crops, and those which suffered high infestation levels, remain small, but with temperatures falling, flea beetle activity is decreasing.