Since I last wrote we have finished drilling oilseed rape, having not wanted to drill too much at any one time for fear of dry soil conditions delaying emergence or high flea beetle pressure hitting when the crop was still at the cotyledon stage.
The Southesk 2018 harvest came to an end on September 14th, 10 days earlier than normal having delivered unexpected highs and, unfortunately, predicted lows in terms of drought related crop performance.
A good inch of mid-August rain in most places – and quite a lot more in some – caused a hiccup as we neared the end of harvest. But it has been just what we needed for oilseed rape sowing and autumn stubble management, as well as cover crop establishment and potato desiccation.
In 1976 I’m told the weather broke about now, August bank holiday weekend and then it didn’t stop raining until winter. Legend has it that potatoes were planted in snow and lifted in snow - but I’m told they were well worth the effort and should be this year too.
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.
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.
James farms 180ha (450 acres) of uplands in Llanbadarn Fynydd, Powys. Married to Rachel with three sons, James runs 1,000 ewes, mostly Aberfield crosses, plus a 50-head suckler herd. An HCC scholar in 2014, he is involved with NFU Cymru’s Next Generation initiative and is passionate about rural affairs.