Crop establishments are less than ideal.

I had a good walk yesterday  and had a good look around some establishing crops. It’s fair to say that earlier drilled crops are in a poorer condition compared to later.

Hardly a surprise when we think of the soil conditions in August/early September when many crops were drilled into dust bowls. The later crops had benefited from some nice rain showers.
There is often nothing worse for late summer drilled crops than going into slightly moist conditions which allows modest imbibing of water, all that happens is germination begins, the radicle (1st root) begins to develop only for the lack of moisture to severely check or worse the developing seedlings.  The oft heard cry of it ‘just needs some rain’ can quite often be too late.

Some early wheat are at GS 13 – 15 but there are also some patches still not emerged or worse have died back.

OSR crops have not fared any better early crops can be at the 4-6 leaf stage and have good coverage others have suffered from two stage emergence with some at just the 2 leaf stage. More still have large areas that quite honestly would have benefitted from re-drilling. But at the time who would have made that call?

As I commented to the producer of Manor Gold rapeseed oil, what we should do is easy to decide, what we shouldn’t do is less clear.

So the dice are rolled, only to stop next July – will they stop on double six or double 2? Only time will tell.


Cauliflower growers face crisis

This article is from FPJ Fresh info

Cauliflower could be in danger of becoming a niche product in the UK as growers are threatening to switch out of the crop.

Sector leaders have called for unity and tough talking with retailers after one of the worst winters for the brassica on record.

SSeveral nights of temperatures as low as –18°C in Lincolnshire in December wiped out 90 per cent of the crop leaving the marketplace for the March to May window desperately short in the UK as production in the south of England has also been affected, although to a lesser degree.

“Growers are feeling very sore and bruised from the last few months,” said Phillip Effingham, chairman of the Brassica Growers Association. “It is a classic case of market failure. There is a lot of competition among the retailers and individual packers don’t exceed 20 per cent of the market. “

Some packers are forecasting a reduction in acreage and a switch into other less risky crops. “In the long-term, acreage will be reduced for cauliflower,” one packer told freshinfo. “Producers can grow wheat and get a better guaranteed margin so I think a lot of smaller growers will move into wheat. Some will go bust this year in the UK and I really think we are looking at a situation where the market will have to plan for more imports in the future.”

Effingham does not agree completely. He said: “I don’t see any hard evidence that acreage will decline dramatically like some people are saying. It will decline, but not that much. Some of the small growers will come out of cauliflowers. But what we are seeing is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction at the moment: growers saying they are not going to plant and go into wheat instead. There is some danger of that, but we are not at the point of cauliflower becoming a niche product yet.”

Sarah Pettitt, chair of the National Farmers Union horticulture board, herself moved out of cauliflower production in Lincolnshire 12 years ago after a particularly poor season. “That year we turned our back on cauliflower for ever,” she said. “The supply chain is so volatile and growers margins are so small and the risk is so great and spread so disproportionately along the chain that I am certain that this year a number of growers will just say ‘never again’. You have to remember this is the third bad year for growers in Cornwall and for some of them, overwintered cauliflower is their mainstay.”

Criticism has also been leveled at the retailers, with packers complaining that they “just don’t want to know”.

One told freshinfo, “We’ve been told, ‘it’s your programme, if you haven’t got the product, import it. We won’t pay the difference’”.

Pettitt is calling for growers to work more together and for the NFU to facilitate that in developing a strategy for sustainable cauliflower production in the UK before it is too late

Wheat Development 15 days – 22/10/11

The Wheat is well and truly emerging now. There is very good, even & high population emergence in this field, this is due to the near perfect growing conditions for the crop. The dry summer has resulted in dusty seedbeds but it also allowed timely cultivations to take place. However it has been fairly damp for the last few weeks in Shropshire without being too wet, coupled with the relatively warm soil and air tempertaures this has given near optimum conditions.


If you look carefully at this next image you can see the first leaf emerged is protected by the coleoptile sheath.   This image shows the seed as well as the coleoptile containig the first seed leaf. This growth stage is classified as GS 1,0.


This next image shows how quickly the situation changes. The main part of the field was drilled on a Friday evening, the section in the far ground is an official HGCA RL trial, this was drilled on the following Sunday afternoon – so just 44 hours difference.  You can clearly see the field is100% ememrged, yet the trial area is yet to shows signs of emergence.



Wheat Development 9 days – 18/10/11

The wheat is now just emerging.

If you look closely you can see the first seed leaves (the mono-cotyledons) emerging from the seedbed. The leaves are still quite pale at this stage as very little chlorophyll has been produced, this of course means that little photosynthesis is actually happening today.  This situation will of change very quickly – in the space of a few hours. 

The second image shows the beginnings of the ‘rugby socks’ – where the plant has emerged and then begins to produce chlorophyll and go green. The newly emerged portion of the leaf is still yellow.

Using variety to determine Gross margin

Very useful article on how using variety profiles can affect your Gross Margin.

 As a rule of thumb I always suggest a 1 point score increase on a disease rating rating equates to a 1/4 rate reduction in fungicide rate.  It may not be always 100% accurate but it is a good staring point. 

Using the HGCA Recommended List is essential in developing varitis for the farm, and in developing assignments in Crop Production subjects.


Succession, retirement and the nex-gen.

Interesting debate on Twitter earlier. Follow at #aggen. Had me thinking about the future for nex-gen farmers.

Should we be going for bigger farms and rely/or encourage the ‘older’ generation to retire.
Should larger farms be split up and smaller units become available for nex-gen to rent for a stepping stone into owning a farm.
Is it better to have large technology based farms, reliant upon big kit or smaller farms for more farmers

Interesting times ahead, and if the debate on Twitter is anything to go by we have some passionate nex-gen farmers ready to step in.

Dry soils, we reap what we sow?

With much of the discussions in arable circles focussing on the dry season & specifically the dry back end is it time we looked at our practices?
A lack of rain is clearly the major cause of dry seeded, but what of our soils themselves?

Modern arable farming relies on synthetic fertilisers, with us returning very little back to the soil. Obviously applying FYM would be the preference to improve OM content but most arable units in arable areas do not have access to large dairy enterprises with muck needed to be spread.(Nocton Dairies anyone?).

Of course this does not mean we cannot apply OM.
The use of cover crops, the growing of catch crops or over wintering basics, incorporating straw, green manures etc would all help.

Lockhart & Wisemans excellent Introduction to Crop Husbandry is a book I am sure we all read at some point as students, why have husbandry techniques been replaced by ‘agronomy’?

why dont have a look at the practices our fore-fathers held so dear?

Wheat Development in Pictures

The ability to identify  the development stages of cereals such as wheat is essential for those who wish to understand the growing of the crop – farmers, agronomists, agricultural students of agronomy &/or crop production and anyone wishing to know more about arable farming. 

See the Wheat Development page on this site.