Sam Patchett Blog: Another frustratingly damp harvest

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August 21, 2017

Sam Patchett Blog: Another frustratingly damp harvest

As one season draws to a close and the next begins Sam Patchett assesses how
the harvest is panning-out and looks forward with the benefit of hindsight.

The early start to combining means we have almost all the winter barley, rape and early-maturing wheats gathered-in as I write in mid-August despite another frustratingly damp harvest.

This year won’t be setting any performance records. But in most cases it won’t be delivering major disappointments either. Overall, our OSRs have been averaging comfortably over 4t/ha, our winter barleys around 8.5 t/ha and our early wheats in the region of 10t/ha. After what could easily have been a disastrous spring drought, we certainly aren’t complaining.

There’s still a way to go. But, if the rain actually lets us harvest it reasonably, we’re pretty optimistic for our main wheat plantings. And the bulk of our spring crops look far better than we feared they might be in early May when many still hadn’t had a drop of rain since drilling.

The early harvest, some decent moisture in the ground and little structural damage from harvesting (so far) leaves us just where we want to be for our OSR planting. Knowing how rapidly conditions can change, though, we won’t be letting-up on establishment care, in general, and seedbed preparation and rolling, in particular.

Not least because slugs could again be a serious challenge after a run of mild winters and the prospect of an unsettled September thanks to 11 days of scheduled international cricket!

Having done us well this season, DK Exalte and Anastasia will be taking a good chunk of our 2017/18 area with extremely vigorous, Inv1035 figuring strongly. We’ll also be looking to tolerant varieties alongside liming discipline to counter the increasing problems we’re seeing with clubroot.

The excellent performance we’ve seen from Take-Off means the root-boosting seed dressing will be a major element of our early OSR agronomy.  As will a specialist starter fertiliser delivering availability-enhanced phosphate and boron as well as ammonium and nitrate nitrogen.

Later wheat drilling for black-grass management is again high on our agenda. Unlike further south, though, it’s likely to be mid- rather than late-October here. Mainly because autumn Hatra applications are still giving us reasonable control – in marked contrast to spring ones  – and very late drilling on our ground gives little, if any, chance of getting them on.

Good consistent varieties like Graham, KWS Siskin and Dickens are central to our drilling plans – Graham for earlier drilling and Siskin and Dickens for the later slots. With milling premiums so meagre and feed wheats with much better disease profiles than the recent past, these barn-fillers are especially attractive.

Because we’d rather risk having a poor spring crop than be certain of a winter wheat full of black-grass, where the weed is problematic even more spring crops are on the menu for us too.

Agrii agronomist, Sam Patchett works with growers across West and South Yorkshire as well as his own family’s farm (

You can email Sam your comments and opinions via

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