Wow, have we had some weather since I last wrote a farm post. 90 mm of rain in May has made a huge difference to the crops and the weeds! With my son’s wedding rapidly approaching, all my spare time has been spent in the garden. Two years ago he announced that he wanted it at home, just like his sister had done. Liz and I had been looking forward to a relaxing weekend on his in laws to be farm, whilst we celebrated his nuptials. The wedding was postponed from last year due to Covid, but is now going ahead with 30 people, so we have been trying to tame our wayward garden for the last two years.. With work being manic at this time of year and my longer column to write for the Henley Standard, my blogs have been put on hold. I still post my mini blogs most days on Instagram and now have a growing audience of locals who are interested about what’s happening in the fields where they live. I am not very smitten with the ‘influencer’ type posts, you will not see any pictures of me! However it is a brilliant medium for quickly telling farming’s story. One which everyone should be interested in, namely where our food comes from.
The maize which should have been sown at the end of April finally went in the ground last week, over a month later than we would normally have aimed for. With the cold dry soils of April and night time frosts we decided to wait. Then along came a very wet May delaying us until June. This prolonged period of rain put a halt to most field operations but we have now caught up. Thanks must go to Ian and new man Lawry for putting in the hours to get us back on track. There has been very little disease in the crops this spring. Being part of Bayer’s rapid disease detection trial has been most enlightening. With leaf test results back within a few days and all showing no latent disease we have been able to reduce some of our fungicide inputs. Working with BASF we have a trial looking at variable rate fungicides and growth regulators, something we have been doing here for a number of years. It will be interesting to see what results we get at harvest in what so far has been a low disease year.
Then there are the weeds, always a problem here as we have a high seed burden of both broadleaved and grass weeds. A cold dry April and wet May have wreaked havoc with control plans. Blackgrass is starting to rear its ugly head and in one field a particularly bad area has emerged which will need to be removed with glyphosate hence the photo above. Using MySoyl I mapped the area by walking around it. I have created an application map which I will download into the sprayer. As I drive across the field it will just apply the chemical to the orange area but nothing to the blue coloured parts. Technology, don’t you just love it, helping us to become smarter farmers and reduce our footprint on the planet whilst producing safe food.
There will be no winter linseed next year. Last harvest saw a very low yield thanks to a late frost and lack of spring moisture. This year the cold winter severely damaged the plants but they did recover. With less rape grown locally, the pigeons took a fancy to the linseed, as did the deer and damage has been detrimental to the crop in areas across the farm. Weed control, always a challenge in this crop, has been even more difficult this year thanks to the weather. This has not been helped by the loss of some more herbicides from our armoury. Wheat after linseed always grows really well, but the wheat is now suffering from increased weeds thanks to the poor control in the winter linseed crop. So back to the drawing board in terms of rotation, but I have got some really interesting initiatives to look forward to, that we are involved in for the future. Watch this space.