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Peter Chapman: Deluge drowns heavy fields and it is a job getting tradesmen to finish theirs

The weather: I wish I did not have to mention it again but, my God, we had our fair share of rain early this month.

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We had a day’s rain on Saturday October 4, then 36 hours of constant and, at times, torrential rain on Monday and Tuesday last week. I do not know how much fell exactly as the rain gauge was overflowing before I emptied it, but it was a lot.

 

Fortunately we were all drilled up by then, with 73 hectares (180 acres) of Volume winter barley drilled by September 24 and 62ha (153 acres) of Zulu and Horatio wheat drilled by September 27 into good seedbeds.

 

The subsequent wet weather has highlighted the advantages of variable drilling. Our wheat was variably drilled at a rate between 165-223kg per hectare in order to, hopefully, give an emerged plant count of about 300 plants/sq.m, with heavy soils getting the higher seed rate. As the heavy areas are not draining so well and with the subsequent slug pressure, I could have had an even higher seed rate.

 

The lighter, freer-draining soils have germinated well, with more than enough plants. The winter barley has also seen a benefit, though not so apparent with a much lower slug pressure.

 

The winter OSR has been very slow to get going; a total contrast to last year. We have not had any issues with cabbage stem flea beetles, just poor vigour which a neonicotinoid seed treatment may have helped with. Plant numbers are fine, just small, so I will probably apply a foliar feed with the light leaf spot spray on the more backward fields.

 

Attention is now turning to getting cattle housed for winter. Grass growth has been great during the year, with calves looking well. They are eating a lot of creep feed with the colder, wetter weather but it is helping take the pressure off the cows.

 

If the weather stays dry then they will be okay for a few weeks outside yet, but another deluge will mean cows having to come in to prevent poaching.

 

Our new cattle shed is nearly there although we are having the usual problem getting tradesmen to finish the job.

 

Hopefully the concrete, masonry and steel work will soon be finished, which will only leave the electricals and the last of the self-locking yokes to be fitted.

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