Dry warm weather has allowed us to keep on top of the spraying and fertilising. With March producing just 21mm of rain and April 31mm, our lighter land farm at Boughton was just starting to suffer; however 20mm over the May Bank Holiday weekend was gratefully received.
All wheats have received their T1; Skyfall with a mix of Firefly (fluoxastrobin + prothiconazole) and Rover (chlorothalonil), as it had a SDHI at T0, with the balance of the wheats receiving Aviator Xpro (bixafen+prothioconazole) plus some Rover along with growth regulators and trace elements. As I write (May 8) the T2 will, wind-allowing, be sprayed in the next few days.
The first tissue test results showed a zinc and boron deficiency across all wheat varieties. Magnesium was also low, so 350g/ha of zinc and 240g/ha of magnesium where added to the T1 spray. Boron is more influential later on as it is an important element in anthesis, so this trace element will be added at T2.
In the last few days of April we took our second tissue tests and we have just received the results, which show boron is the only element now showing a deficiency. Two fields have shown up with very low phosphate levels, ironically these are the two that, due to their location, have over the last 10 years had straw removed; these have now received a liquid phosphate spray.
Beans have been sprayed with cypermethrin to control pea and bean weevil, which had started to notch the leaves. The crop looks well, although we have some black-grass just starting to come through in places, so a graminicide has been be applied in the last few days. This comes after a pre-drilling and post-drilling application of glyphosate and reaffirms our long-held belief that although spring cropping helps control black-grass it is not the sole answer.
The bean tissue tests showed very low magnesium, molybdenum and low levels of boron so Brassitrel Pro will be used in conjunction with a second cypermethrin spray to control the continued notching.
Winter barley has moved forward relatively well and has had an application of Terpal (ethephon) as I do not want it falling over like it did last year.
Oilseed rape has received its mid-flowering sclerotinia spray this week, consisting of Amistar (azoxystrobin), Filan (boscalid), Multitrace B plus Hallmark (lambda-cyhalothrin).
Our nine hectares of fallow has received yet another glyphosate spray and has had the Vaderstad Carrier over the top which has produced 3-4cm of tilth to ensure another black-grass flush.
Due to premiums for soft wheat ranging hugely for full specification over the last few years I am looking at dropping soft wheat and growing all milling wheats. We have many years experience in growing them and they seem to suit this farm. This decision is also helped by the fact that I have sold all next year’s crop with a premium of min £25, no max and some of 2016 at min £20, no max, which gives me somewhere to work towards, unlike soft wheat which just limps along at whatever the millers are prepared to pay.
Game covers at home and at two other farms for which we provide a complete game cover programme have been either disced or ploughed depending on size of cover. Sam soon followed up with the subsoiler on most areas and then cultipressed those which required it in readiness for drilling in mid to late May.
It would be remiss not to mention the election; the Conservative majority may just make life a little easier for agriculture than a Labour/SNP/Green Party government.
I now have a new member of my crop walking team in the form of our Labrador puppy, Megan. The other team member (our nine year old springer spaniel) is at present, not too impressed . . . .