Cereals has been and gone; it was good to catch up with lots of people and it was interesting that I was asked more about my garden and the house move than sugar beet or potatoes. But as one of my colleagues is always telling me, my writing is more like an episode of The Archers than a technical column so maybe it is to be expected.
Writing in the middle of June most of the winter and spring crops I walk have received their full spray programme. The next main pass will be desiccation of oilseed rape.
Productivity varies considerably from region to region. Variations are due to a diverse mix of cultural, political, environmental and social factors, all particular to the locality. Climatic conditions can bring both challenges and opportunities in equal measure.
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.
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 ...
We started harvest on July 28. Our winter barley on the lighter land was first to be cut. This year it was all six-row, with most being hybrids. We had several plots of just under one-hectare blocks to compare hybrid varieties. The plots in the centre of one of the fields yielded very well despite the difficult growing season, with Belfry just coming out top at 9.83 tonnes/hectare closely followed by Fletcher at 9.77t/ha.
Mid-August and we are feeling a lot more positive about life than we were a few weeks ago.
I should have known better than to write last month that we had only had 30mm of rain since the end of April. No longer had I finished writing it and we have received rain almost every day since. Although we have only had over 50mm in the last three weeks it feels worse because when it does rain it has been very heavy showers.