Talking Arable with Andrew Robinson: Uncertainty ahead

arableColumnistsTalking arable

The EU referendum vote was one which surprised me, uncertain times may lie ahead but also possibly some opportunities so we need to get on with it and deal with what’s ahead of us.


One area which I was particularly displeased and perplexed about is the NFU’s decision not to stay neutral in the referendum debate. As a member of the NFU I expected facts to be given regarding the pros and cons of each side of the argument, not an all out decision that we should all remain.


Storms came and went in June, with reports of more than 100mm of rain in one afternoon locally. We were fortunate enough to miss these huge deluges but June turned out to be a very wet month, with us recording 136mm for the month – way ahead of our usual 54mm and definitely not what we wanted on this heavy soil.


Worryingly, the first six months of the year’s weather pattern almost mirrored 2012 exactly, although from a grain selling point of view that would be fantastic as looking back at my records I see our highs that year were beans at £301, Solstice £231, Gallant £248, soft wheat £242, feed barley £180 and OSR £392 – happy days indeed.


Keeping chocolate spot out of our spring beans is proving a real headache; the continued wet weather in June has led to an explosion of disease despite the best efforts of man and machine. Already two applications of Alto Elite (chlorothalonil + cyproconazole) have been applied, but in truth we are struggling to keep the disease under control.


T3s were completed in good time despite the weather with one-litre/ha of Firefly (fluoxastrobin + prothioconazole) plus some Nutriphyte PGA and magnesium making up the tank mix. Despite the moist conditions, wheat orange blossom midge was a non-event again for us this year due to the lower temperatures.


The final stage of the grain store improvements will hopefully be up and running by the time you read this, with our new 100t/hour cleaner lifted into place and the new control panel in the final stages of completion to replace the 34-year-old one. We have taken a decision over the last few years to replace various elevators and conveyors in stages to maximise our capital allowances, with the new cleaner the final piece of the jigsaw.


Our two continuous flow mains gas driers will be kept for the foreseeable future despite both being more than 30 years old as they are in perfect working order even though they are not quite big enough to keep up with the combine. We run the grainstore 24 hours a day so they are generally able to catch up through the night.


Cereals proved to be a good day out for us, with everyone learning something new and seeing some new technologies. The park and ride system worked well again for us and although there were lots of familiar faces and companies on-site, there were still some disappointing omissions from the event. After talking to a large company which decided to pull, I was shocked at what it was being asked to pay to attend. I can totally understand why it chose not to attend and see Lamma as the event for it, a real shame.


The last of the machinery has gone through the workshop in preparation for harvest, with the grain stores being emptied and then cleaned out ready for the arrival of new season grain.


Good luck everyone for the forthcoming harvest, I have a feeling we may all need some.


Arable Farming
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