Winter wheat is an amazing crop. Our 15ha of late-drilled, crow ravaged, weed-invested Alchemy has gone from pathetic to lush dark green in three weeks.


Taking out the weeds with Othello and applying the normal nitrogen (220kg/h) to a low plant count has created a tiller explosion of up to 10 per plant in places and the crop might just reach our budget yield of 8.5t/ha.

However, I am always optimistic at the end of May when everything looks full of promise. Elsewhere, all the potential for harvest is looking good. The only problems have been difficult weed control in the forage maize with small patches of couch grass and the need to spray spring barley with manganese, which is unusual, but probably down to the cold late spring. Thanks to agronomist, Bruce, for spotting the problem.

The Department of Agricultural and Rural Development is fighting a potential EU fine of £60m brought about by farmers claiming the Single Farm Payment (SFP) on too much non-eligible land.

The message to form fillers has been too soft. Clear and accurate aerial maps have been available for years and there are no excuses for “mistaken” claims. Honest examples are not being set by those who should know better.

I recently attended a public meeting where our longest serving Euro MP was not apologetic or humble about having his SFP cut due to claiming area payments on poultry houses. Instead he used this to play to the gallery and criticise inspectors for gold plating. Those who sell their souls for votes will not get mine.

Finally, no obvious mistakes last month although I may have made one by not going to Cereals. I have to stay at home and make haylage and be here for the birth of my thoroughbred mare’s fifth foal. Irish bred horses are world leaders. Any customers out there?

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