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Steve Heard: 'Instead of spending money I decided it was cheaper to spray-off the entire field'

arableCrops

Why would anyone be stupid enough to destroy a good looking and well established crop of wheat just a month after drilling? For several reasons we have done just that. Much like the American electorate we were faced with two options, neither of which had any appeal.

 

So instead of spending money in another attempt to chemically control the problem black-grass (which was worse than expected), I decided it was cheaper to spray-off the entire field and take advantage of the unseasonal perfect conditions to direct drill a second attempt.

 

The original crop had previously been established following a deeper cultivation to incorporate the large amounts of spring oat straw and this combined with continued dry conditions for the residual chemical, seems to have contributed to the poor weed control. I am relieved to report that the bulk of our fields, which received a shallow micro-tillage are so far much cleaner.

 

The 14 hectares (34 acres) in question is now an experiment to see how an apparently perfect November-drilled crop will compare at harvest in terms of both yield and weed burden. I am interested to see whether the yield penalty is compensated by a suitable improvement in weed control. I have my doubts.

 

Early dark nights are giving me plenty of time to trawl the internet again as I contemplate another import from the USA, this time a combine stripper header is on the potential shopping list.

 

With an increased area of linseed this year and a real curiosity to harvest some wheat by this alternative method, I am hoping political unrest might eventually improve the dollar exchange rate in my favour (after I finish selling my wheat).

 

Alternatively, perhaps somebody knows of a machine for sale closer to home? Unfortunately they seem almost as rare as an east Leicestershire wheat field without grass-weeds.

 


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