At least the Arctic spring seems to be over. Yes, it was great for planting, but it’s been a prolonged cold period with very little growth.
As for what harm it has done, it’s difficult to say.
Of the tillage crops, the winter oilseed rape may have been most affected but as ever with rape we’ll only know when it’s harvested.
The frost might have been the least of our oilseed rape’s problem. We lost one field altogether and it was replanted with wheat which looks good but the rape is the worst I’ve had.
I’m thinking of going back to second wheats instead of barley
It’s a combination of late Claydon drilling with no autumn fertiliser, low varietal vigour (Ambassador) and pigeons.
Neither is our winter barley much to write about. The hybrid varieties are the best bet on our soil but they have their own problems.
I’m thinking of going back to second wheats instead of barley and I’m tempted to dabble with a bit of continuous wheat once more.
There’s also the problem of volunteer wheat in the following barley, which is a nuisance at harvest time.
The wheat crops look good and we’re pushing them to the limit to cash in on the high grain prices. Though the new variety Saki seems prone to tipping when under stress.
Simplicity in the cab
As part of our collection of the worst tractors ever made, the Ford 7600 takes our number one spot (the Fendt 816 isn’t that far behind).
We’ve had it from new but it should have been sold 45 years ago. It overheated from day one and wouldn’t pull a pint. It was one of the last Fords to be fitted with the Fieco cab – the nice “bubble” Q cab was introduced a few months later.
The modern-day equivalent is Haggard Stores’ mobile seed dresser cleaning dry beans, which fries your eardrums
The Fieco cab was awful, not least because it acted like an amplifier for the engine.
With the engine on full tilt, the noise inside the cab was like standing in front of a pounding Marshall stack at a Led Zeppelin concert with Robert Plant in full cry.
The modern-day equivalent is Haggard Stores’ mobile seed dresser cleaning dry beans, which fries your eardrums.
There was practically no padding in the Ford cab – there’d be more in a Mountjoy mattress.
It was also useless on the PTO. A non-chopping small Keenan 80 Feeder was too much for it. Nowadays, it’s confined to the Del Morino mower for mowing around the yard and along the road, which is what I was at before coming in to write this so-inspired piece.
Yeah, you might need an extra Weetabix in the morning to work it all day but for simplicity of use, it is unequalled
The Del Morino has a PTO requirement of 20hp but a warm day is enough to get the Ford sizzling.
But the Ford has one redeeming feature and that’s the simple quadrant lever for raising and lowering the three-point linkage.
A quadrant lever is now, of course, very old fashioned when linkages are operated with an electronic button. Yeah, you might need an extra Weetabix in the morning to work it all day but for simplicity of use, it is unequalled.
You can, for example, quite easily control the rate of drop. Granted you can do this with great precision on the modern Fendts – I’d say I could lower the five-furrow plough unto an up-turned saucer of Mrs P’s finest delph without breaking it. But I’ll need to fiddle with the dials for five minutes beforehand.
But I could also do this, very simply, with the Ford – anyone could with the Ford. Except for the fact that it wouldn’t lift a plough in the first place.
Bring back the quadrant-type lever, I say, even if it has to be electronically assisted. I think John Deeres may have something like this but that doesn’t count. I’d rather spend the day on the Ford – at full cry.