It was always likely to happen. We have very much now swung on the pendulum of dampness from one extreme to the other, and the fields are soaking wet. My plan had been to wait until October 1st to start drilling the wheat, but on September 30th the forecast didn’t look very good, so my nerve broke and we started a day early. There was only time for one field to be planted, but over the next couple of weeks we could sneak in a field here and there, until at this point, half way through the month, we have done two thirds of the work. I had intended to be all finished by now, but beggars can’t be choosers – and many other farmers haven’t even managed to get started, let alone be this far along. Generally the conditions have actually been pretty good when we have been in the field, and the first bits of wheat are now well emerged and on their way to next harvest.
Almost more of a problem has been the wind, which has made it very difficult to spray the fields after drilling, something which is very time critical in our system. This is because we do not kill off the plants already in the field, either with cultivations or chemicals, before we drill the wheat into them. This means that it is essential that we can do this before the new wheat seedlings emerge out of the ground, or else it will be too late, and the crop will be ruined. Luckily we have just about managed to find the times and places to make it work, so are about up-to-date with what needs doing.
Elsewhere on the farm the oilseed rape continues to grow, having been held back by the very dry September. Unfortunately, although it has mostly established well, we are already starting to find the larvae of flea beetle infesting some of the plants, which could spell big trouble next spring and summer. The cover crops we have planted this year are some of the worst I have ever seen, due largely to the incredible amount of wheat seeds that have germinated in the fields with them – seeds that were knocked out of last year’s crops by high winds in August. These compete strongly with any other plants, meaning that the money spent on cover crop seeds has been largely wasted.
The forecast for the next couple of weeks looks pretty good, so I am hopeful we can get the rest of the wheat in soon, and then finally the beans at the end of October. And on the bright side, the rivers and ground water have been so low, this rain really is needed. Let’s just wait until November until there is too much more, please.