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Talking Arable with Iain Green: Too wet to drill winter wheat


We had to stop drilling winter wheat by the end of October it just became too wet.

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We had to stop drilling winter wheat by the end of October it just became too wet.


This is the first year I can remember when we have not applied any chemicals to the winter barley. We normally apply a pre-emergence spray around the headlands where brome is a problem. The remaining area of winter barley would normally receive a post-emergence application.


The land in this area has been so wet we have not been able to get onto the fields. Our normal annual rainfall is only 750mm and this year between August 10 and the November 14 we received 398mm.


As I write this article [poss pull quote] we have no spring cereal land ploughed apart from the one day’s ploughing which the ploughs had covered in front of the drill destined for winter wheat. Disappointingly, the ground never dried enough to drill. We have grown continuous winter wheat in the same field since 1987, but next year it will have to be spring barley because of the wet weather we did not manage to get it drilled.


I had hoped we would have had a dry, frosty autumn which would have allowed us to subsoil and level the huge tracks left by the combines and balers after harvest and have this land all ploughed ready for spring drilling, but Mother Nature has not allowed this to happen.


I am fortunate not all our eggs are in one basket and did enjoy a boost to my frustrated mood in the way of a fantastic sale of our pedigree Simmental bulls at the Stirling Bull Sales in late-October. Our entry of five bulls received several tickets, including two firsts, champion and reserve senior, reserve overall champion and three of them went on to win the champion group of three. The five sold to average £10,122 and sold to a top price of £13,650 for the reserve overall champion.



Spring barley varieties have been chosen with the same three as last year. Maresi for high nitrogen sold on a wheat futures plus premium contract. Although Maresi is an old variety, it is well suited to be grown on our land near the pig unit, which consistently grows high nitrogen barley. We do receive an extra top-up premium for Maresi to compensate its lower yield. This is because one customer specifically requires this variety.


Moonshine and Concerto will make up the remainder of the acreage. The Moonshine will be sold on a malting barley contract, and the Concerto will be sold on wheat futures plus premium contract. The tonnage will be split as normal between three end users. We are fortunate to have three large maltings within 10 miles of where our barley is grown.


I have forward sold 25% of my malting barley tonnage already for an average minimum price of £164.45, which at today’s price looks favourable. I have also bought some feed barley for next November for our pig herd at £110, although with the pigmeat price continuing to fall weekly it looks like the pig sector is in for a period of consolidation again.


We did receive our Single Farm Paymenr on December 1, which was an early Christmas present just a shame 12.5% was chopped off it compared to last year because of the reduction of the financial budget for the CAP.


We still have not had full confirmation of next year’s rules and regulations, but one thing is for sure there is certainly going to be more red tape.


Looking at the options available for our Ecological Focus Area, although it goes completely against all my drive and motivation for agriculture, fallow will be our best option. By using this option we can direct reseed this land with our silage grass mixtures which would normally follow winter barley.


I would like to wish everyone a prosperous New Year.


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