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Reviving grassland

Grassland

There are many reasons to sow new grass leys, but none more prominent than having some in poor condition following the wettest winter on record and one of the hardest spring droughts.

The recent rainfall will help things but it cannot reverse the damage that's already been done. Unfortunately, many leys have lost key elements, allowing weed grasses such as annual meadow grass, rough stalked meadow grass and couch grass to populate the thinner areas. 

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Frontrunner - 3rd July 2020

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) surprised markets at the end of March 2020 when it published its US quarterly stocks and acreage report. It estimated that US farmers would significantly expand their corn planted area. The estimate predicted the planted corn area would be 7.3 million acres greater than last year, when prolonged rainfall kept farmers out of the fields.

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on SoundCloud. 

This week, the report is read by Group Commercial Strategy Director, Andrew Flux.

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P and K blog series: Managing levels after extreme weather events

Flooded-soil

We've certainly seen Mother Nature go from one extreme to the next in recent months. Given the incredibly dry April and May experienced this spring, it is difficult to comprehend that February was actually the wettest on record. Let us not forget that this also followed the consistently above-average rainfall throughout autumn and winter too.

However, a generally kind March and early April allowed for some substantial spring cropping. While somewhat of a forced change for many, this - coupled with the extremes in weather - has significantly impacted the nutrition requirements for this and potentially next year's crops.

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Potatoes - Meeting nutrition demands

Potato nutrition demand

Potatoes are not unique in this respect, but virtually all of their macro-nutrients applications are made before the crop is planted and well before the peak uptake of nutrients that happens 60-75 days after emergence. This, coupled with the plant's naturally poor inherent ability for rooting, means that efficient uptake of nutrients is always challenging.

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Frontrunner - 26th June 2020

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Wheat markets continued to fall this week, continuing the trend that coincided with the beginning of June. Improving production prospects for US wheat and corn crops are the main cause for this negativity as Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures fell to within a cent of contract lows set early last September. US CBOT corn futures slipped almost 6% lower during the week.

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on SoundCloud.

This week, the report is read by farm trader, Ron Burnside.

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P and K blog series: The building blocks of overall plant health

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Phosphorus and potassium are vital for photosynthesis and water regulation – but how much of them do you need to guarantee healthy plants?

Precision technology can play an important role when it comes to successful nutrient management. With P and K in particular, there is a considerable benefit to carrying out nutrient mapping and variable rate applications of fertiliser in that you are able to individually deal with field areas that are both below, at and above the critical level. 

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Frontrunner - 19th June 2020

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Improving US harvest prospects saw Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures come under increasing pressure this week, losing almost 4% of their value and falling to levels not seen since early September last year. The US wheat harvest is advancing rapidly, with 15% completed according to the most recent crop progress report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which was published on Monday evening. This figure compares to 7% at this time last year...

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on SoundCloud.

The report is read this week by farm trader, Luke Cox.

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Pre-harvest grain store management

CROP-PRODUCTION-STORAGE

The ability to store grain can be a fundamental aspect of a crop marketing strategy, providing growers with the opportunity to sell for later movement.

Of course, this can only be successful when effective grain storage facilities and management plans are in place, as these are pivotal for safeguarding premiums and grain quality to lessen the risk of rejections and claims.

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Frontrunner - 12th June 2020

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Beneficial rain across most of Europe, as well as improving wheat and corn production prospects in the US, weighed on wheat markets early this week. Expectations for a bumper US corn crop in the 2020/21 season grew higher as US farmers advanced their planting to 97% completion. This is ahead of the five-year average of 94% and would suggest that drilling the increased 7.3 million acres projected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is highly likely...

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on SoundCloud.

The report is read this week by Commercial Manager, Richard Johnston.

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Frontrunner - 5th June 2020

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Rain arriving in the UK, northern Europe and Black Sea countries has been viewed as beneficial for the drought-stricken wheat crops in these regions, triggering a wave of selling on wheat futures markets earlier this week.

UK prices suffered particularly, losing as much as 40% of the gains they made during May. Values were not helped by the 1% gain of sterling against the euro. However, there was a notable turnaround on Thursday, led by wheat futures from the US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), which rallied to a six-week high... 

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on SoundCloud.

This week's report is read by Barley Trader, Westly Garner.

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Give maize crops the best chance

maize

With maize establishing well across the country now, attention is turning to the management of the crop during the crucial early stages.

The crop itself originated in sub-tropical regions, so it is a plant which loves conditions that tend to be warmer than the average UK spring. As a result, it is not uncommon for maize to show nutrient deficiencies, or for its growth to slow if temperatures are relatively cool.

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Market report - 4th June 2020

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Cooler, wetter weather in the UK has brought some welcome relief to crops which, as a result, has brought out a few sellers. However, the UK will still need to import substantial quantities of rapeseed into the UK next season.

For 2019, rapeseed markets were mainly supply driven but, since the Covid-19 crisis, we've seen the collapse in demand for mineral oils and rapeseed oil as a result of the lockdowns imposed on industries that would ordinarily need these products. Typically, in the EU, 60% of the demand for rapeseed oil goes into biofuels, with the rest into the food service industry.

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Black-grass management pre-harvest

Black-grass

Black-grass is major problem on many UK farms and it is now widely accepted that fully integrated solutions to manage the weed are fundamental to achieving any kind of success. Ultimately, most approaches are aimed at limiting seed return in order to reduce the overall population pressure.

In this blog, I discuss a number of management options that should be considered pre-harvest to reduce seed return and which should form part of an overall, long term plan to eradicate the weed.

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Frontrunner - 29th May 2020

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Damaging heat and prolonged dry weather coupled with a fall in the value of sterling versus the euro have driven wheat prices higher again this week. Since the beginning of May, London 2020 wheat futures have gained almost £15/t. This is a particularly impressive performance when compared to French wheat futures, which, over the same period, have increased by little more than €3. Unfortunately, not all farmers will benefit from this. The prolonged wet drilling conditions throughout the autumn and winter period prevented planting in vast areas of the country and will result in the smallest UK wheat crop since the 1970s.

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on SoundCloud.

Read this week by Farm Trader, Luke Cox.

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Frontrunner - 22nd May 2020

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World wheat markets had a poor start to the week as traders digested the bearish United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Supply and Demand report published last Tuesday. The report signalled ample grain supplies for the coming season and US wheat futures fell to lows not seen since last September. However, prolonged dry weather is adversely affecting the wheat production prospects for some of the primary producers across the Northern Hemisphere and leading officials and analysts to lower their crop estimates. This triggered a wave of buying mid-week and wheat futures rallied sharply.

You can also listen to Frontrunner - press play to hear the latest report on SoundCloud.

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Milling wheat - final decisions

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As I write this, glancing out of the window to look at blue skies over dry soil, it's all too easy to forget the extremely wet autumn and winter we all endured. Clearly, this posed a massive challenge for establishing autumn crops and has led to one of the smallest winter wheat areas we've seen for decades. 

It did, though, also cause large amounts of mobile nutrients like nitrogen and sulphur to be leached out of the soil, meaning we started spring growth with very low levels naturally available. Indeed...

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Frontrunner - 15th May 2020

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This week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its World Supply and Demand Estimates for May, which included its first look at the 2020/21 season. An increase in supply exceeding demand is anticipated, which will lead to increased year-end stocks for both wheat and corn. 

Corn production in the US - the world's largest producer - is predicted to jump significantly. By the end of last week, US farmers had drilled over two-thirds of the planned corn area. The area planted is expected to increase by over seven million acres on last year and yields should increase by over 6%.

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Carbon Farming: Part Three

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​In our last two carbon management blogs, we've been talking about the role agriculture plays in annual carbon emissions and the ways in which growers can reduce their environmental impact through natural capital management. 

Now, while many farmers are choosing to take progressive steps towards carbon management, the law also obligates conventional farmers with over 15 acres of land to create Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs)...

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Market report - 13th May 2020

Grain

Weather in the Northern Hemisphere continues to underpin grain prices, particularly ongoing dryness in some of Europe's key wheat-producing regions. Much of Northern Europe, the Baltics and Southern Russia have seen very little rainfall with the latter receiving just 5-20mm this week, so crops are continually being stressed. Consultancy, SovEcon, said on Friday that despite some recent rain, the extended drought period left irreversible damage to some crops which will result in lower output.

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Are you making the most of biomass imagery?

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Unlike some of the advances in precision farming, biomass imagery doesn't require specialist or expensive equipment. In fact all that's really needed is a computer and a desire to discover some information that could be of value to your farm business.

Surprisingly, however, there are a number of farmers who are not fully utilising biomass imagery and its benefits – but why the reluctance?

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