A game of two halves: the popular phrase used by those who comment on football matches certainly applies to farming over the last year.
Autumn 2012 saw some of the worst conditions for establishing crops we have seen in recent history and hence some very poor, late crops with apparently low yield potential. But what a difference is made when the sun is “switched on”.
Even after a late, slow cold spring the summer sun of 2013 has made the best of what crop potential we had and although most fields did not break records the yields were certainly above my predictions made in February.
I had better not shout too loudly as we still have spring beans and spring oilseed rape to harvest, both crops that replaced failed winter oilseed.
With spring rape I have made one mistake in the choice of chemical used to desiccate. I treated it the same as the winter crop, not appreciating the speed with which it matures. So we are waiting for the weeds to die and dry before we can set the combine to work, and the stark change in the weather is no help.
This highlights the problem with increasing the proportion of spring crops grown on the farm. Later harvesting leads to later establishment of the next crop and we enter a cycle of lateness which can be difficult to break. Lessons learnt from the last 12 months: be flexible, reduce risk, but don’t lose sight of profitability.