It’s time to think about recruiting the wild oat rogueing team for July/August. Google says ‘sowing wild oats was applied figuratively to young men who frittered away their time in stupid or idle pastimes’.
Drilling of spring barley finished here on May 6 - the latest I can remember. Ground conditions were ideal and the late-sown crops have emerged quickly.
Well nearly almost all the spring cropping was drilled, but not quite. After having to wait patiently for soil conditions to improve we eventually managed to finish spring drilling in early May, thanks to some greatly appreciated long hours from the team to make the most of the weather opportunities.
In north east England, we are used to challenging springs but this one stood out, even by our standards. The only consolation is the whole country shared our ‘northern spring’.
It has been pretty frantic this past month but some decent warmth, as well as moisture, means most of our crops have caught up well. We are getting on top of our fieldwork too, so we are moving into the second half of May in relatively good shape.
As I write, in the middle of April, the weather forecast for the week ahead looks rather confusing. It seems to be showing very unfamiliar sunny symbols and potential temperatures in the early to mid-20s, something which hasn’t been seen for a good while now. Finally it looks like we are entering a week where sprayer wheels will be turning and spring drilling finally getting underway.
Reading back over last month’s comments when my copy of Arable Farming arrived in the post, I thought how optimistic I had been that spring was just around the corner. What I didn’t appreciate at the time was that a month later I would still be writing the same messages about waiting for the land to dry out before we can get on with the spring workload.
Well it happened – it stopped raining and we have managed to move house. We have a great view and it will be enhanced shortly when the local farmer starts grazing the marshes with his cattle. The house move was not without its glitches and a few false dawns, a bit like the weather with the mini-Beast from the East delaying the onset of spring once again.
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 ...