Crops Grown More detailed information can be found on the Cropping Map page.
Arable crops up until recently were considered to be the main
source of income for the farm; they are still the largest part
but produce is worth roughly 40% of what it was in 1998.
The main crops are Winter Wheat, Winter Barley, Spring Barley
and Oilseed Rape.
|This is grown primarily as a feed but generally gains a small
use in biscuit making. The varieties grown are Consort and Robigus
which are 'soft' wheats.Some C1 seed wheats are occasionally grown for sale and my own use. Seed rates vary from 130 to 230 kg/ha (at
extremes) depending on date and seedbed. These are sown in September
and October for harvest the following August/September. Whenever
possible herbicides are applied in the Autumn along with an aphicide
for BYDV prevention. Nitrogen usage varies between 175 & 220
kg/ha again depending on situation in rotation and expected yield.
Generally a two spray programme is used for fungicides plus an 'ear
spray'. Strobilurins are only used on the flag leaf. Growth regulators
are used as a matter of course. It is almost unheard of to harvest
wheat in this part of the world at less than 16% moisture content
(generally between 18 and 24% although in the year 2000 much in this region was
cut at near 30%) so it has invariably to be dried to 15% or below
|The aim is to grow barley with a low nitrogen content suitable
for the brewing industry.
As a rule winter barleys are required
to have 'N' contents between 1.5 and 1.8 % which makes them suitable
for lager production where the brewing process is more 'industrial'.
For low 'N' barley to make quality traditional ales, lower yielding
spring barleys are grown. The varieties grown are Pearl for malting
and Heligan for pearling. Heligan is taking a larger area each
year as malting varieties fail to make profit. These are sown in
September for harvest in late July/August the following year. Seed
rates are generally about 180-190 kg/ha. Nitrogen is kept to about
160 kg/ha but sufficient is applied to avoid yield penalty. A two
spray fungicide regime with growth regulators is used.
|The variety grown is Golden Promise, which celebrated it's 30th
birthday recently, specifically for malting. It is 'old fashioned'
but considered by most to be the best malting barley ever. It is
low yielding compared to modern varieties and susceptible to several
foliar diseases. The 'target' N content is 1.3, but up to 1.55
is acceptable, in order that it may be used in "The Macallan" malt whisky. The target date for sowing
is mid to late February although up to April can be successful.
The land is ploughed in November to allow winter weather to break
it down and improve the quality of the seedbed. A seed rate of about
195 kg/ha is used. Two, occasionally, three fungicides have to be
applied as mildew can attack extremely early and must be controlled.
Nitrogen usage is normally about 100kg/ha applied as soon as possible
|Canola (Oilseed Rape):
This farm is GM free, but we do grow hybrids produced
in the same manner as hybrid garden plants. The variety grown is
Pronto which suits our farm very well. It is sown in August for
harvest the following August. It can be tricky to establish because
of the low seed rates, small seed/seedling size and susceptibility
to slug damage. Slug pellets are generally only applied on rougher
parts of fields or if slugs are known to be present. A pre-emergence
herbicide is used to control most broad leaved weeds, followed
by a contact herbicide to control grass weeds. Two fungicide sprays
are applied, one in the Autumn and one in the Spring for light
leaf spot. The crop is swathed to help with final ripening/drying
in mid-July and combined about 14 to 20 days later. It must be
dried to about 7% mc as it is normally combined at about 10 to
15%. OSR is blamed by many for hay fever etc but several hundred
other species are flowering at the same time but have green, hardly
noticeable flowers. Oilseeds are crushed to provide oil for cooking,
margarine etc. and can yield up to 45% of their weight as oil.
By using oilseeds as a source of oil for motor vehicles, carbon
dioxid emissions can be reabsorbed in the following crop, making
them 'carbon neutral' as opposed to fossil fuels which are mainly
responsible for global warming. At present unfavourable taxation
in the UK makes this unfeasible.
|Oats are a minority crop nowadays and fall, like
barley into spring and winter varieties. Traditionally oats were grown on poorer land where they
would be more robust than barley or wheat. Most oats are either grown
on contract for specialist food manufacture or animal feed. We have
not grown them for a number of years owing to their yield variation,
lack of standing power (lodging) which makes harvest difficult and
they are a problem for several years in following crops.
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