WTFIH @ Thriplow Farms, October 2019

In the end, harvest finished quickly – too quickly – and easily. The wet weather all cleared up, and I could turn off the crop drier. The last third of the wheat was a disappointment, largely because the storms in the middle of August had been fairly devastating, with the 50mph winds and marble sized hail knocking a significant amount of grain out of the ears and on to the floor. Right now these fields look a bit like a lawn, as much of the wheat has germinated and grown where it fell. It’s not easy to know exactly how much we lost, but I think it is somewhere around 1 tonne per hectare, or roughly 15% of the total crop. Another piece of misfortune – or maybe just bad farming on my part – saw our biggest field of wheat yielding around 2t/ha less than its potential, due to growing a catch crop of oats and radish last year, before we planted the main crop in the middle of October. We can tell this was the culprit, as the neighbouring field, which was treated in exactly the same way save for the lack of the catch crop, produced that extra 2t/ha. So overall we ended up with a wheat yield of 7.9t/ha, the lowest in my career, and the worst since 2001.  Without the storms and poor farming, the yield would have been perhaps half a tonne per hectare greater. This still would not have made it a great harvest by any means, especially with prices as low as they currently are.

Of course, the cropping years always overlap, and all our oilseed rape was planted by August 6th. It went in to pretty good soil conditions, and then received a lot of rain after drilling. This was good to get the seeds germinated, but it did mean there was a struggle to keep slugs at bay for several weeks. Right now, the crops range from excellent on the very first drilled fields, to slightly-slow-but-still-ok on the later drilled ones. The main problem is that, yet again, the weather has turned very dry; even the grass in my garden has started to die back once more. What with the abnormally low ground and river water levels in our region, we really could do with some sustained wetter weather.

As for right now, farming jobs for September are fairly thin on the ground as we do not cultivate, so aside from trying to control some grass weeds in the oilseed rape, it is mainly a waiting game until the start of October, when we will begin sowing the wheat, with any luck, into a damp soil…

This photo was taken immediately after the combine had passed, so they had been knocked to the ground a week or two previously.

2 thoughts on “WTFIH @ Thriplow Farms, October 2019

  1. Unless there’s more to germinate, looks like less than a normal seedrate? I’ve often thought that the combine has left a lot but in reality it’s max 200kg/ha. Only an opinion of course.

    • 20 seeds in a 10cm x 10cm square is 1t/ha. Some bits of the fields have a lot more than this, some have almost none. I think the average is about that though.

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