Talking arable with Andrew Robinson


We finished drilling wheat and barley on October 6. Seedbeds were excellent thanks in part to our 10-metre set of Dalbo spring tines which ensured an easy and cheap way of pulling up worked ground in front of the drill, with an average measured fuel rate of just 4.1 litres per hectare with the 535 Quadtrac.

Due to the ground conditions becoming a bit wetter underneath, we kept the 535 Quadtrac busy attaching the 16.3m set of rolls as it treads lighter than our wheeled 215hp Case Puma on wide tyres and surprisingly uses less fuel, with the measured fuel use this season being just 1.3 litres/ha compared to the 1.9 litres/ha with the Puma.

Crops have emerged well bar the last 95ha sown post-spring beans, which required the rain that arrived mid-October to aid germination. I have been particularly impressed with the Belfry winter barley sown at Boughton, its speed of germination and general vigour have been excellent, I just hope it continues in this vein. The Crusoe wheat over there also looks really well, with the roots reaching 75mm just three-and-a-half-weeks post-sowing.

Various combinations of pre- and peri-emergence sprays have been applied along with an insecticide and manganese to the emerged earlier-drilled crops. Pre-emergence sprays centred on a stacked Crystal (flufenacet + pendimethalin), Liberator (flufenacet + DFF), Defy (prosulfocarb) + DFF mix with peri-emergence either just some pendimethalin or a Liberator mix. Last to be drilled were the areas where black-grass can be present, albeit in low populations, these had a Crystal and Movon (DFF + flufenacet + flurtamone) mix to add another active ingredient in the form of the flurtamone. The dry weather meant we did a half rate pre-emergence and can now go in with a stacked peri-emergence thanks to the arrival of rain.

Oilseed rape at Boughton looks like an early-drilled rape crop, large and frothy; it has received an application of difenconazole and tebuconazole for both disease control and height management.

The crop at Toddington is fighting through the flea beetle pressure and I am now confident our losses to this pest will be zero which will be down solely to our three- to four-day spraying programme.

Next on the oilseed rape spraying list will be an application of Cleranda (imazamox + metazachlor) plus Dash adjuvant on our Clearfield field, where there are high levels of charlock, runch and cranesbill present, which should hopefully be controlled.

Astro Kerb (aminopyralid + propyyzamide) plus Crawler (carbetamide) will be sprayed when conditions allow, soil temperatures are decreasing slowly, however, we are at 12.4degC (October 18) and are dry so it may be a while before applications can begin.

Due to the rotation we have another large area of spring beans for this coming harvest. Ground preparation began as soon as combining finished and this ground has now all been ploughed in excellent conditions. Having more horsepower and the CVX gearbox this year has meant this larger area has been ploughed much quicker than in previous years.

Trial plots for Openfield have been drilled again for this year, with Strutt and Parker also involved. There are 18 trial plots, 15 of which are single varieties of Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4, with three plots being blends. I wanted to try the blends to see if they perform better than single varieties. We have a Group 4 blend, one soft wheat blend and one milling wheat blend so it will be interesting to see if these are better than single varieties.

This year there is also a seed rate trial, which we are doing next to the trial plots with seed rates of 250, 350 and 450 seeds per square metre.

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