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Arable Update- February 2019

By Stephen Hemingway

Autumn 2018 allowed all the planned winter wheats and barleys to be sown. The weather was good through the whole sowing window and maize came off early, leaving good conditions to follow on with sowing winter wheat. The mild and relatively dry winter, so far, has allowed crops to get well established – in some cases rather too lush!
This can encourage diseases which will be carried through to spring. If crops were sown early and are too advanced, especially some winter barleys, then consider grazing with sheep to remove excess leaf.
As we look forward to the 2019 cropping season, we have been busy selling spring cereal seed and as of first week in February we reckon to have sold 70% of your anticipated tonnage. Prices are higher than last year on the back of high cereal prices and poor seed yields last harvest and availability is tight on some varieties, so please let us know as soon as possible so we can get the best variety to suit your farm. Spring oats are scarce, but we have spring wheat and Arable Silage Mixes available so please ask Mark, Stephen or Brian for details.

Grass seed supplies
There was a lot more grass reseeding done in 2018, mainly due to a good August and September, but also re-seeding was missed in 2016 and 2017 so some catching up will continue in 2019 – weather permitting!
It is a fact that new leys in their first 4 years produce the highest quality grass, so a rotational plan needs to be looked at to keep grass leys fresh & productive and ensure that you have the volume and quality of silage you need to maximise your meat and milk production from forage. Grass seed prices are up by around £10- £12 per acre due to seed shortages throughout the UK and Europe. We are trying to absorb some of these increases but our prices will be higher this year, although they still offer excellent value for money.
The new Aspatria grass catalogue will be available shortly, showing our updated premium range, which is designed by our Agronomists to suit Cumbrian soils– more on that next month.

Maize for 2019 Season
Maize crops, nearly all of which were under plastic, performed well in 2018. Although sowing was later following the cold spring the dry weather and the prolonged hot spell suited the maize. Once the roots got down all the crops were pretty drought resistant. We did not have bumper fresh weight yields last year but there were very good starch and dry matters results on the samples we have seen.
Harvesting was earlier, but some crops suffered some losses following the severe winds in September.
The trend has been to use earlier varieties of maize that perhaps do not produce the biggest crops but are ready earlier and give that extra starch level. This move to earlier harvesting allows following wheat crops to be drilled after the maize is harvested and reduces the acres lying fallow over the winter.
We saw an increased acreage of Maize in 2018 and we are seeing that continuing again this year. We have sourced all our plastic which will be the clear pinhole type and we have a wide range of Pioneer, Grainseed and KWS seed varieties available. Most importantly we have the experience of advising the use of the best varieties for your situation. Give us a call for any advice on maize for this year or if you think it may suit your system in future.

Soil Sampling & Lime
Just a reminder to keep taking soil samples every 4 years.
Knowing your Lime, Phosphate & Potash levels will always enable you to save money on fertiliser inputs as well as increasing productivity. Lime is especially important on arable crops as well as on grass – if pH levels are too low plants can’t utilize Nitrogen or Phosphate properly and you will be wasting money on inputs.
We can supply a range of lime products, but it is most important to use a decent ground limestone. Too many quarries supply a ‘screened’ lime product which is far too course, and takes many years to break down in the soil negating any saving.
Also avoid Magnesium lime which puts too much magnesium in the soil, locking up Potash & trace elements.
Again speak to us for advice and we will talk you through the best options for your farm.

We can help you with all your cropping requirements and our agronomists are always on hand to talk you through the options and come up with the best solution for you!

Joining Aspatria Farmers

We always welcome new farmer members and as well as talking to our team please feel free to complete the attached New Members Form and mail it to us with your cheque and we will handle it from there!

Aspatria Farmers | aspatriafarmers.co.uk
Station Works, Aspatria, Cumbria, CA7 3JW
info@aspatriafarmers.co.uk | 01697 320207 | Copyright 2018 Aspatria Farmers Ltd.