It’s been all go, go, go since the late start to harvest.
The late start to harvest already seems a distant memory; OSR crops were gathered in without too much problem and the yields finished above my conservative budget. However, with most of the crop still unsold, some major recovery in the markets will be needed to rebalance my monetary expectation.
Chasing behind the combines we have used our old Vaderstad Rapide drill to cultivate a shallow stale seedbed and at the same time establish our summer cover crops. Following the success of last season’s winter cover, I have decided to try to grow an additional green manure prior to direct drilling our winter wheat at the end of September.
A cheap mix of oats and linseed have been sown as a companion to the volunteer OSR and inevitable black-grass flush. Fortunately some timely dry weather allowed our low disturbance subsoiler to follow the drill across the heavier soils and any compacted headlands before the weather broke.
Wheat harvest looked encouraging from the moment the first grain trailer pulled onto the weighbridge and then struggled to tip its load. Merchant tests have now confirmed the first cut Gallant wheat has bushel weights of more than 85kg/hl. Growing milling wheat seems to suit my impatient nature – they usually come to harvest earlier and then if it rains I can justify the drying costs to maintain the grain quality.
Crusoe and Skyfall have also been harvested but I await the sample results. Varietal yields are difficult to compare due to different soils and place in rotation, but it seems the top yield this year will be some September direct drilled Crusoe following spring beans.
Next year’s OSR crop is of course already under way, with most now sown, slug pelleted and sprayed but progress is currently halted until we can get some more fields cleared. With more than enough moisture for anything freshly planted, I look forward to seeing some sunshine and the combines rolling again very soon.
Steve Heard farms at Illston on the Hill, Leicestershire. He grows a variety of combinable crops on 1,192ha (2,945 acres) of land, which is rented and contract farmed. He also runs an arable contracting business, and is a keen user of new technology.