T1 Growth Stage

By Peter Lundgren, The Farmer

We are approaching the T1 growth stage* and so the next job in the field of wheat is fungicides and nutrients to help keep the crop healthy. Our agronomist has recommended treatment and the product is in the store ready for favourable conditions for application. Very interestingly a soil sample arranged through two of the collective members has shown a deficiency in Potassium so I will include a foliar feed along with the fungicide to help address this deficiency.

And also the second and final dose of nitrogen needs to go on when the weather warms up a bit and the plants look as if they need some additional fertiliser.

Timing applications of fungicides and fertiliser is proving a challenge because the British weather is doing its usual best to be difficult. I expressed concern in an earlier blog that the winter was very mild; that the field of wheat was too advanced; and that daffodils were out unseasonably early in the first week of February. Since then its been cold and windy and wet – none of the gentle April showers with sunshine in between that makes for good growing weather – just damaging downpours followed by cold, dry wind. The daffodils are still in flower some 10 weeks later and the field of wheat has barely advanced through its growth stages putting us back to, or even slightly behind, where we should be at this time of year.

An event coming up that might be of interest to collective members is Cereals 2016 on the 15 and 16 June in a field near Cambridge. This is the main business show of the year for the arable farming sector that appears like a mushroom for a couple of days and then disappears. There’s a huge range of crops, merchants, machinery, innovation, plant breeders, and financial services all vying for the farmer’s attention and if anyone wants to see farming and agribusiness in the raw it’s the place to go.

Some years ago I took Paul Kingsnorth, a respected journalist, to Cereals whilst he was interviewing me for a chapter in his book ‘Real England’. Reading the chapter later and seeing my farming industry through his eyes was something of a revelation to me. Not least his description of Cereals and his portrayal of the macho image of farming where everything seems to have names like ‘Challenger!’ and ‘Spitfire!’ and the terminology of farming is dominance of the soil; forcing things to grow; battling against pest and disease.

For some of you Cereals will be an example of everything that is wrong with farming today but, for those of you who would like to understand the mindset of our farming industry a little better (even if the experience is uncomfortable and challenging), I can recommend a visit.

Oh, and if anyone has spare tickets I could use some.

On a lighter note I’ve been looking to change my farm truck and last week I went to an event organised by a local farmers’ buying group bringing together the main manufacturers and where I could test drive a range of 4WD vehicles. When I got there someone had brought along a red Ford Mustang – 5 litres of American muscle car to test drive. I have no idea how many miles it does to the gallon (or should that be gallons to the mile) and how environmentally damaging it is but driving it and listening to that engine put a huge smile on my face! Just wish it came in four wheel drive!

*Details of wheat growth stages here


Please feel free to read through questions and responses from the Field of Wheat collective members and the Farmer.