The latest edition of the Tillage Edge podcast addresses the impact of the very wet autumn season on tillage farms in the UK.

Similarly to Ireland, farmers in England will be coping with the impact of poor ground conditions this year. Lower than normal plantings and patchy crops are a feature on many farms, as a result of wet weather conditions.

Teagasc’s Michael Hennessy spoke to Andy Mahon, a farm manager in North Bedfordshire, about his autumn travails:

“We were very lucky. The combine on the farm is quite big, relative to the area of crops to be harvested. There were no winter barley or oilseed rape crops to be combined, hence the relatively late start to the harvest with us.

“Winter wheat was our first crop to be tackled, which was quite a mixed bag. Where we had poorly drained ground, a lot of the wheat went backwards with the very wet weather in the spring.   

“Bushel weights were lower than in 2022. This was due to the lack of sunlight throughout the growing season. Yields were down between 15 and 20%, year-on-year,” Mahon explained.

According to Mahon, his area of the country luckily wasn’t as badly affected as others.

“Most of the really bad weather hit Ireland, and then came on to the south and east coasts of England.

“Places like Lincolnshire got very badly hit. Here, many growers failed completely to get crops into the ground. Any that did go in, subsequently drowned.”

The farm manager commented on how wheat prices are quite low in England at the present time.

“There are large tonnages of feed wheat knocking around at the present time looking for a home.

“The premiums for milling wheat are quite high at the present time. However, the bulk of the 2023 crop in the UK won’t meet the standard required in this regard.”

Mahon also commented on the growing challenge of blackgrass for this year. Blackgrass is known to reduce crop yields through competition for nutrients.

“A combination of wet weather in the spring and wheat crops that did not grow-on well made for perfect blackgrass conditions”, he said.

“In places where the weed really takes a hold, yield reduction of up to 2t/ha can be expected.”