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'Always a stressful time of the year,' says Spalding-area farmer

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In the weekly Word on the Ground column, farmer Ian Stancer says October is a busy month.

The end of October is always a stressful time for me these days – it’s a brinksmanship situation between blackgrass and wet winter weather.In other words the trade-off between getting as much blackgrass as possible emerged and killed before the wheat is emerging, and getting wheat drilled in good condition before the soil turns to mud and yield potential goes from decline to free-fall.

The disaster that ensued in autumn 2019, followed by a monumental struggle last year, led me to fear a similar fate this season, but as I write on Halloween, I’m tantalisingly close to completing the drilling campaign in good conditions, but time will tell if I’m able to thwart the dreaded blackgrass as well.

It wouldn’t be a normal autumn these days without a few grumbles surrounding sugar beet.

Ian Stancer
Ian Stancer

Last year it was low prices and Virus Yellows that decimated the crop, this year it’s the frustration of those growers tied into the remains of a three-year contract at a lower price than now offered to those free to leave. With costs set to rocket this next season nobody is likely to make a fortune from beet except perhaps British Sugar, but nothing is as galling as getting less money than your neighbour. I suppose it’s the same with any forward contract – you have to be prepared to swallow the bad outcomes if you’re tempted by the good.

The blight of lawless hare coursers is gathering momentum, but the Police have had some success, so please help them further by reporting suspicious vehicles and blatant law breaking, then hopefully we’ll all enjoy a less stressful winter.

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