Overall, July has proved to be another interesting display of British weather and has left us watching and waiting for drier weather on the horizon. Our thoughts aren’t all glum however. With a record WOSR harvest under our belts, we are optimistic for another successful wheat harvest and maintaining our average farm yields.
I recognise that weeds can be a troublesome pest for the striptill farmer and we employ an extensive arsenal of both cultural and chemistry resources to nip problems in the ‘bud’.
After the bumper WOSR harvest I followed soon after with the Mzuri Rezult stubble rake to work on producing a stale seedbed. As if following the combine wasn’t great timing enough, by the time I had finished, the rain started thus creating the perfect environment for germination of weeds and OSR volunteers. The result (or should that be the Rezult if you pardon the pun!) has been amazing.
Although I’m a little disheartened by the amount of seed that’s come out of the back of the combine, the fine tilth and the straw spreading action of the rake has done a brilliant job of chitting volunteers. This will be followed by an application of Glyphosate as per instruction from our Agronomist, and then a second round of raking a few weeks later to finish off any weed seeds or volunteers that managed to skip through the net the first time round.
Leaving the previous crop residue on the surface has prompted another benefit to our soils that we have certainly experienced in abundance this month. Worms are everywhere! The moisture retention along with the accelerated straw decomposition have provided the perfect environment for worms to flourish, further accelerating the decomposition of the straw and aerating and improving the soil’s structure.
Slugs, on the other hand, are nowhere to be seen. The mechanical action of the rake, aided by an army of beetles, has destroyed their habitats and wiped the majority of them out.
The crop most at risk from the extended period of wet weather is the winter wheat. With heavy expected yields, the rain is causing the crop to lean in places, but I am impressed with the resilience of the straw which is largely supporting the crop very well. I put this down to good light interception created at drilling which produces stronger, thicker straw more able to withstand higher yields and damp, windy periods.
Strong straw or not, I want to get going with the combine sooner rather than later. My only comfort is knowing I’m growing feed varieties not milling wheat!
Not all the crops are suffering with the weather, the Soya looks good with plenty of pods per plant. This has certainly been a foreign crop for us and our lack of experience growing Soya means we’re watching closely for any changes and anticipating an interesting harvest, so watch this space!
The linseed is looking encouraging and overall is a very clean, healthy crop. It’s beginning to change and it won’t be long until we are thinking about desiccation.