I like a challenge, as I’m sure most people do, but 2020 is far too generous in giving them out.

I’m now entering the fourth autumn of my tenancy here and am pleased and proud of the changes I’ve made to the farm and the things I have learned during the short time of being here.

However, I am only a small way down a long path to making the farm more resilient to the extremes of weather we are experiencing.

See also: Crop Watch: Blackgrass surge and OSR herbicide cut-offs

The ground here gets very “friendly” after a little rain, and turns to concrete when there is none.

Narrow window

The working window is currently very narrow and arguably too early in the autumn with the blackgrass pressures seen in the past.

So you may have already guessed the next sentence, but at the time of writing, we have most of the autumn drilling here still to do.

I’m reluctant to say crops look good as they are not safe yet, since all could change in the spring.

So far, 90% of the oilseed rape broadcast into crops pre-harvest or drilled later looks like it will make a good crop, with the remaining 10% still hopeful, but plants are looking small.

Pigeons will be the issue, something I’ve enjoyed not worrying about for the past two years.

My optimism for lifting the sugar beet is minimal after hearing some fairly poor reports on yields and sugar levels from people who have already lifted.

On the plus side, current ground conditions mean there is no rush to lift yet so it might add some yield, but I would like to have it out of the ground in the next month to give myself some hope of getting wheat in behind it.

See also: A guide to effective bird scaring kits for farmers

Feedback on articles

It is always nice to receive feedback or questions to what I’ve written in these articles, and last month I seemed to receive more than usual.

I hope I’ve replied to them all, but if not thank you for your e-mails.

Usually we’d be looking forward to finishing off land work and being able to escape the farm regularly through the winter for conferences and training days.

Unfortunately, that is not the case this year due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions, so it is looking like a long winter in the workshop, which I think will be quite a challenge to the normal off-farm socialising, which falls under the banner of “it’s still work”.