If someone had told me a month ago that we would finish harvest on September 17 then quite frankly, I wouldn’t have believed them.
But what a difference a month can make at this time of year having gone from exceptionally wet conditions to slightly more seasonal as the weeks have progressed.
This harvest gone was my tenth at Southesk, and although very intense in terms of workload, has delivered a nice anniversary with robust yields across most crops.
WWinter wheats have averaged 9.8 tonnes/hectare, winter oats 8.1t/ha, winter barley 9t/ha, oilseed rape 4.2t/ha, and spring malting barley 6t/ha.
On the plus side, the grain stores are full with the majority of grain forward sold at good prices and, very importantly, spring barley has achieved malting specification.
However, extra unsold crop has been immediately sold into a falling market and with variable grain quality across all crops, there will be further deductions to follow.
Add to this our increased fixed costs for grain drying and additional combine hire leads me to hope that the phrase ‘yield is king’ will still pay off.
Our thoughts have now very much turned to autumn crop establishment; however, we are still struggling to get any sort of momentum going.
Our aim up here is to basically start sowing when the combines start rolling, and to lose three weeks like we did in August, where ground conditions were just saturated, is just time you never get back.
We missed our end of August deadline for 115ha of oilseed rape establishment, instead finishing on September 8.
That week lost will make a massive difference to the size of the plant going into winter, made worse by the fact it was established in a way that goes against practically everything I believe in for effective rape establishment.
Due to the conditions, it was sown on a different farm than it should have been, into a trashy seedbed after oats with significant amounts of chopped straw to deal with.
There was no DAP fertiliser applied with the seed because our direct drill couldn’t cope with the trash, so we had to pull the big drill out just to get the crop in.
And you will never guess what - its barely had a rain on it since it was sown and the seedbed has now gone brick hard with moisture and the broadcast DAP unable to penetrate through to the developing root.
And I almost forgot, we have had to make a night time application of insecticide for flea beetle for the second year in a row. Yes, it appears the little blighters are on their way north after all.
Elsewhere we have established 130ha of winter wheat and 90ha of winter barley but still have some difficult heavy farms to turn around before we tackle potato land.
The biggest change to our workload this autumn is the shift from pre-emergence to early post-emergence herbicide on our early wheats.
Sown after vining peas and oilseed rape, we would usually have used Redigo Deter (clothianidin) seed dressing for BYDV control and prevention of seed hollowing by slugs.
Based on our climate, the six-week aphid cover that Redigo Deter gave us, meant that we never had to return with a follow up insecticide, which basically meant that in terms of spray once the pre-emergence was applied, the gate was shut for the winter.
Now we are broadcasting slug pellets off the back of the Cambridge rolls and will apply our pre-emergence of pendimethalin and flufenacet with an aphicide early post-emergence, an insecticide that will hopefully kill the target species but will unfortunately kill off some non-target as well.
Like flea beetle control in oilseed rape we have lost underground control of selected pests and are now forced to apply control through the sprayer.
How long will it be until our selected targets become resistant to our efforts?