Early Start to Autumn Drilling at Heathcote Farms

The bulk of the autumn drilling programme has been completed on the heavy clay soils at Heathcote Farms near Toddington in Bedfordshire, despite the return of heavy rain over the past few weeks.

About 380ha of winter wheat was in the ground by 23 September, but the drill has not moved since. The remaining 70ha of wheat ground is now earmarked for RGT Planet spring barley after a successful first year with the variety.

“We were going to give RGT Saki a try, but we don’t envisage any more wheat will be going in unless there is a prolonged dry spell,” says sprayer/drill operator Matt Fuller.

“We wouldn’t usually drill wheat so early but autumn 2019 was still fresh in our minds."

The ground looked clean as far as blackgrass was concerned – the only winter crop we had last season was oilseed rape.

“We did leave patches where we know blackgrass is bad, so we can treat them over the winter. The rest looks OK.”

No oilseed rape

OSR has been dropped. It would have had to follow spring wheat, beans or barley this season, delaying drilling until September.

“We always get a better result from August sowings,” says Matt. “It was also very dry at the time, and we found out that we had a high level of resistance in our flea beetle population, with one sample being almost 100% resistant. All in all we would have been putting something in the ground over which we had no control.”