You are viewing 1 of your 2 free articles

You’ll need to join us by becoming a member to gain more access.
Already a Member?

Login Join us now

Rodney Down: Sunny days have helped maize thrive but cattle is proving costly

What a fantastic month June turned out to be after a worrying start. Fusarium can only be seen in some fields where we used old seed but generally crops look very well.
Twitter Facebook

Black-grass and wild oats are present in most fields, easily justified when nearly all fields are the same this year.


The maize has really thrived with the sunny spell and I do not think we have ever seen a crop catch up in such a short time. Even the late-drilled crops are knee high with the best up to my chest.


Usually one enterprise or crop disappoints each year and this time it is the beef cattle holding the wooden spoon, closely followed by the cereals. I am still wondering how to make the cattle figures work.


When we start calving at the end of this month I see us selling beef calves at market. But the black and whites? I must be getting old as a few years ago I would be piling into the beef in the hope of better times. It has worked before but with global beef numbers rising, a strong pound and consumption stagnating, I cannot see it turning a corner quickly.


So we are now into July and maintenance jobs and are on the cards. A bit of concreting and fencing is keeping the staff who are not on holiday busy.


All our staff have a couple of weeks off between June and August as we are not milking many and are not calving either. My mind is occupied with crop planning and how, with all our agreements, we are going to satisfy everybody’s needs.


And then there is the new crazy rule about hedge cutting. Not all hedges are cut in August so why can we not just cut some? We are trying to squeeze ever more into a narrower window. A better trade-off would have been a voluntary agreement so we will not cut more than 25 per cent in August. That way, early planted fields could still be trimmed before cultivations.


May I wish you all a trouble-free, barn-busting harvest.

Rodney Down


Rodney Down farms with his wife Claire at Higher Wrantage Farm, Taunton, Somerset, with 125ha (307 acres) on a farm business tenancy and a further 323ha (800 acres) rented and contract farmed. He milks 300 Holstein Friesians and runs 350 beef cattle and followers. The farm includes 180ha (445 acres) feed wheat and 61ha (150 acres) of maize.

Twitter Facebook
Rating (0 vote/s)
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

More Insights

Low cost system ensures profitability

A Gloucestershire dairy farmer relies on a low-cost system which treats the herd as if it were one cow, in order to maintain a profitable business. Wendy Short reports.

Getting sand bedding right

Sand is only one option available for bedding dairy cubicles, posing its own challenges and benefits. Laura Bowyer visited Richard Chewter at a quarry in Hampshire.

Aphids prove a writer's muse

Juggling fruit with fiction has been a quite a journey for Kathryn Evans whose talent and persistence has seen her name catapult way beyond the farmgate. Sue Scott finds out more.

Making better use of grass and improving fertility are keys to survival

Ireland’s dairy industry has made substantial improvement in on-farm performance and national output over the past 10 years. Ann Hardy reports from the Ireland Genetics UK Dairy Conference. 

Driving calf growth

Since attending a series of AHDB Dairy Calf to Calving events, Andrew Wallis and Tony White have implemented a number of changes. Farmers Guardian reports.
FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2016 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
RSS news feeds