The Combine is warming up ready for action!!
The harvest is looming fast on the horizon; you may have noticed some activity on the farms around you as farmers are out with their sprayers and swathers. The Oil seed rape has set seed and the seeds are coming into early full maturity, to speed the ripening process and help with harvest timings the rape plant needs to be killed so the sun can dry it quicker.
This can be done either by spraying it off with Roundup or by swathing a process of cutting the plant without thrashing the seed off it. Roundup is our preferred method as it will kill the plant and all the weeds (if any!!); we know when to spray by inspecting the crop. Once the seeds in the pods halfway up the plant are turning colour from green to brown to black we will be going in with the sprayer. The sprayer will have a mix of Glyphosate (Roundup) the broad spectrum herbicide to kill the plants, a water conditioner to help the plant to absorb the herbicide and a product called PodStick. PodStick is basically organic glue that coats the pods to keep them in tack as the plant dries out. It is a sort of safety product for us as farmers, Oil seed rape is very delicate once it is close to combining and the smallest of vibration from wind, rain or HALE will cause the seed to shed and fall on to the ground. As the plant dies and dries the pods become brittle as it shrinks and cracks, the PodStick just prevents this from happening and pod skin becomes more leathery than brittle. When you have put all your years’ effort into producing a high quality crop then you don’t want pound coins falling to the floor before the combine. Hale can be a huge problem and can strip crops off all their seed if a particularly harsh storm goes through the farm some people in know storm areas actually insure there high value crops against hale damage, an expensive process but in some case very necessary.
The Roundup will be applied and will need to be left for 14 days minimum before harvest. The moisture of the crops needs to be down below 10% at harvest to help with safe storage and easy combining. The straw will be chopped and incorporated back into the soil and soon after harvest our new cultivator will be sent in to mix the chopped straw and break up the soil to create a stale seed bed which will mean that any shed rape seed will germinate along with weeds like Black grass that then can be controlled before we drill the winter wheat in September.