It’s not just in cattle we can see the effects of genetic variation and progress.

Last week, with the first round of treatments finished, we had a good look at the crops.

The difference between the two varieties of winter wheat was astonishing.

The new variety that we are growing for seed was perfectly clean down to the lowest leaves. The standard commercial variety was riddled with rust – both were treated exactly the same. While the emerging flag leaf in the crop affected by rust was clean, it will not stay that way for long without treatment.

The implications for yield are serious unless we take rapid action. It was the clearest example I have ever seen of the dramatic difference that breeding for specific resistance can make.

Elsewhere, the headed-out winter barleys are ready for their final protective spray.

This is the first time we have both spring barley and spring oats with the sowing delayed by wet weather – these are now fully emerged and growing vigorously, but their husbandry programme is only beginning.


The most disappointing crops are the two varieties of oilseed rape. Both are now in late-flowering and setting pods but both are much shorter than normal, with large bare patches where water lay and very poor establishment on the headlands. I presume this is due to compaction, even though these were only ploughed when the centre of the field was sown.

The basic problem was we were too late in getting the crops sown and the autumn was too wet to compensate. We will know the full price at harvest.

On the cattle side, we are now preparing for first-cut silage and aiming for the first few days of June, weather permitting.