You would think an ear fungicide on wheat would be a simple job – a chance to calmly contemplate the end of another arable season (my 30th) on a long June day.
The weather was fine (the heat was gone), the sprayer was back to perfect condition with a new check valve on the right inner boom, the diaphragm pump had been overhauled at the same time, and I was exactly on date ” three weeks since the last dose ”.
Yes, there were questions that needed to be answered: Should I be using row crops instead of 18.4s?
They’re in the barn, but my shoulders aren’t what they used to be. It’s been a dozen years since I last fought this wheel swap battle – and I only narrowly won it.
Does stepping back to corners of the field cause more damage than fungicides do good at this late stage?
How many deer can a small farm support?
Has the General Manager of Rotam ever had to open and empty a can of Toledo under “fast fill” pressure? Would he like to come and try it?
I had been at the start of the drilled Zulu – at one point and intended to be buried, but now having staged a miraculous recovery, with flag sheets you could land a plane on, covering three quarters of the drilled area original.
And on the way, I had passed through the Zulu sown in February, just as lush and with the first ears appearing now.
Finally, I arrived at my 150 acres of Crusoe, the flagship crop, one in which we spend more time, effort and money than any other.
No more questions once the ramp has clicked into place and I’m gone, checking the pressures and height of the ramp (carefully – neck is not as flexible as it is). was 30 harvests ago):
Should I go back to Nufol to try to boost the protein? Didn’t the soggy forehead recover well? Why is radio reception so bad at this end of the farm?
And then the big – the really, really big, and the really, really worrying: why does my Crusoe seem like two varieties?
Shades of green
First call: Tod the Cropdoctor (once in a decent phone reception area). Yes, he had seen it a week or two ago as ears were emerging, but he was eager – like all doctors – to see what developed. (“Doctor, doctor, I swallowed a camera.”)
At this early stage, he had tentatively blamed it on heat / frost / Mars in Uranus / Greta. “Send me pictures,” he said, sounding even more like a modern GP.
His verdict: definitely two varieties. A gray-green, several inches taller and still in bloom. The other is a pure green and shorter – more like Crusoe.
Now, Two-tone Crusoe might be the best name for a ska / sea shanty cover band, but its farming implications are slightly less cheerful.
The first thing we need to know is exactly what the rogue variety is (assuming the other is indeed Crusoe).
If it’s another pure sucker, then that’s less of a problem – as long as it ripens simultaneously and doesn’t destroy Hagbergs. If this is a standard food for bogs – well, that will make the year’s work unnecessary.
More calls have been made, emails have been sent and the whole issue is under investigation. Nothing to do for the moment.
Notice, the questions have not diminished: how will they say? DNA? At the eye ? Will the supplier agree? Will I need my new TFA legal assistance? At the band’s next rehearsal, will we try to make Quo like a ska sailor’s song?
And all I wanted to do was a fungicidal ear bath.