Drilling of crop plots for the 2020 Cereals Event at its site in Cambridgeshire is well forward, with stands of oilseed rape and cereals emerged and growing away, despite difficult conditions.

“The site is on free draining land and the grass for the Cereals Event has established extremely well – the whole area looks a picture,” said host farmer, Robert Law.

According to crop plot manager, Paul Scrimshaw, 100% of the exhibitor plots had been drilled by the end of October. “Like elsewhere in the UK, we’ve experienced very tricky wet conditions – although we’ve escaped more lightly than some areas in the West Midlands,” said Mr Scrimshaw.

With more than 30 varieties of wheat and 20 of barley, alongside oilseed rape, linseed and novel crops covering around 5ha of crop plots, the logistics of sowing and managing the site can be complicated even with perfect weather conditions, he adds.

“It’s very different growing a show crop to a farm crop. To a farmer, it’s the economics that are important at the end of the day, whereas with show plots all exhibitors want them looking beautiful so you do have to go the extra mile.”

To sow the crops, Mr Scrimshaw has two 30hp open-cabbed tractors, 1.2m and 2m cultivators and a 2m drill – although he can call in specialist equipment if required.

One of the biggest challenges this year – as for many farmers – has been cabbage stem flea beetle attacks on oilseed rape. “They caused a lot of damage early on and a couple of weeks ago I thought we might have to abandon two plots, but they are now all up and firing away – it feels like a minor miracle,” he added.

In addition to managing key crop plots at Cereals, there will be extensive demonstrations by NIAB, which, with 128 plots, has more to see than ever before. Within this it will feature a large agronomy area comparing varying fungicide inputs, including new fungicides to be launched in 2020.