Two months to harvest in York

It’s surprising what you can find to do when trying to avoid filling out the SPS application form.  Suddenly writing a blog seems rather appealing and has shot to the top of my to do list.

The dry spell of weather we had in April meant all spring beans drilled into cover crops happened in a timely manner.  I drilled 50 plants per m2.  On the lighter soils all 50 have come.  On the clay soils what were still very wet underneath only 40/m2 have established.  The majority of the beans are Fury, chosen mainly for the good downy mildew resistance.  I also have some Vertigo drilled to compare them to.  So far they all look well.  Volunteer runch will need controlling with bentazone on the lighter land.

Winter wheat has the flag leaf emerging and are all looking good.  Septoria is now on leaf 5 in all varieties except Skyfall which is the cleanest of them all.  I am using SDHI sprays at T1 and T2 this season.  The crops I grew  were noticeably cleaner where I did this last year.  The weather so far has been favourable for wheat, cool and bright.  There is a long way to go yet but crops are looking good.

Oilseed rape suddenly leapt into rapid growth as soon as soil temperatures warmed up.  Pigeons have been a persistent problem for me this year and have done plenty of damage in isolated areas. I am also seeing some pod abortion from the late frosts we had.

I have a 4ha trial area in oilseed rape where I spread some red clover into a standing rape crop.  The intention is to get it established under the canopy of rape so there a cover crop there as soon as the rape is cut.  I will report on the progress of this in future meetings.

The topics I hope to cover in the autumn meetings are crop nutrition, accounting year end, farm security, and will continue to look at cover crops and soils.  Please come forward with any topics you would like to see covered.  There meetings are for you: let’s make the most of them.



David Blacker farms around 890ha on a mix of family-owned, rented and stubble to stubble contracts just north of York. He is keen to drive down costs, and has recently bought a four metre strip-till drill which has led to a new rotation for 2014/15 - wheat, oilseed rape, wheat and spring beans. David grows feed wheat, chops all his straw and is using cover crops to improve soil structure and add organic matter to fields before spring beans. David is particularly interested in precision farming and improving his soil organic matter and structure, and is running his own trial to incorporate compost to raise the soil organic matter. He is also planning to re-locate his farm yard, including his chemical store which will include a bio-bed type spray washings system and rain water harvesting.