Pre-harvest update from Cardiff Monitor Farm (July 2016)

We’ve had wet weather which is pushing harvest back from when we’d normally start.

Everything looks ok – wheat, OSR, oats and beans. However, we’ve got a big question mark over the barley because of black-grass control.

We’ve lost a lot of the chemistry we used to use. The question now, is, do we give up on barley or spend more money on it with a tri-allate-based product? We’re considering buying a granular application, and we’ll probably stick with barley because we don’t know what to replace it with. It has space in the rotation, value with the straw, spreads workload and prepares the ground for oilseed rape. At £100/t it’s questionable at the moment in terms of profit, but long-term hopefully it’ll be ok.

We’ve got a couple of new and old wheat varieties that are looking good. We might be growing Lili in the future as we’ve got a field and it looks good. We’ve been growing Claire for a long time. Every year we think it’ll be the last year we grow it, but then it looks like our best wheat at the moment so we’ll probably be carrying on.

We’ve grown Clearfield OSR on our worst charlock-infested ground. We’d nearly given up growing OSR on this field because of charlock infestation, but it’s really worked well.

Here in the Vale of Glamorgan we’re lucky because we don’t have problems with cabbage stem flea beetle. I know some farmers elsewhere in the UK have given up on OSR, but this side of the country we don’t have the same problems as the east of the country. OSR was one of our best crops last year because we sold it quite well.

Last week we went to Scotland with the Monitor Farm group. We saw some wonderful crops of barley – they’re lucky that they don’t have black-grass. However, I don’t relish the prospect of combining wheat with average 24% moisture content like they do up there. We saw a couple of good diversifications with windmills, although we couldn’t do it on our farm because of the airport next door.

They’re very good farmers up there in Aberdeenshire. The standard of farming was great and everything was neat and tidy – it was noted that the farmer who was the tidiest had the lowest costs of production. There is a link – it’s all part of efficiency. ‘Muddle makes muddle’, as my grandmother used to say.

The exchange was brilliant – everyone who went thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully they’ll come down and visit next year to reciprocate the hospitality.  Thank you to Gavin, Richard and Meg for organising it and running it so smoothly.

JulianRadcliffe

JulianRadcliffe

Julian Radcliffe farms around 600ha, of which 400ha are arable, in the shadow of Cardiff Airport. The farm has very shallow medium loam soils, around 20-28cm and even less in some places. Julian grows wheat, OSR, barley, oats and grass, and has started growing a small area of maize. He recently invested in a beef unit to finish 250 cattle and also has a flock of 200 breeding ewes. Julian’s aim is achieving consistent yields and maximising returns, and to do this his focus for the Monitor Farm programme will be on yields, cultivation, grass weed control and a marketing strategy to address price volatility.

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