Here in the driest corner of the country it is a pleasant change to have almost too much autumn moisture in places. It has certainly put a dampener on heavier land cultivations and, thankfully, any enthusiasm for early wheat drilling.
Good oilseed rape planting conditions and the better break crop margins available mean a much larger winter area this season. Even those who lost crops last season or gave them a miss due to previous losses have been tempted back and are glad they have ...
Harvest 2017 was concluded on August 29 with spring beans and as expected they produced a disappointing yield of just 4.28 tonnes/hectare, 16% below our five-year average. The only saving grace is that human consumption quality is there and the gross margin looks positive as, due to weather restrictions, they did not have either a post-emergence grass-weed or broad-leaved herbicide, meaning variable costs are just over £200/ha.
While it was our earliest-ever finish to harvesting ...
Warm soil temperatures and plenty of moisture across the region gave oilseed rape crops the best possible start.
The dry weather is starting to raise a few eyebrows of concern with very little rain falling in March and just 6mm in April, with crops on lighter land visibly suffering. Currently the heavy clays at Toddington are coming to no harm, but it won’t be long before the crops start to suffer, with the last reasonable rainfall being 7mm on the March 22.
Most crops are showing a lot of potential, and our decisions and actions over the next couple of months are going to be crucial in ensuring we maximise that potential. The relatively mild winter and early spring, combined with ample rainfall events, has led to all but the very late sown crops appearing to be very forward.
A while ago we discussed potato blight and its influence on the socio-economic development of Ireland and the USA in the 1840s and 50s. There was another significant ‘produce-related’ event in the history of the USA – and that was the Boston Tea Party.
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.