Matt Redman in a farm office© Tim Scrivener

So far it has been a very contrasting spring compared to 2016. Drilling has progressed well, finishing at least three weeks ahead of the 7 May finish date last year, with conditions on the whole good and dry – there was even talk of needing rain midway through.

T0s were all applied in good conditions, although it proved a challenge to find days where it was calm enough to get the sprayer out.

T0s for Skyfall, Lili, Zulu and Siskin have mainly consisted of chlorothalonil, tebuconazole, chlormequat and some manganese, with some of the late September direct drilled Lili after beans also receiving some Moddus (trinexapac).

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The Glacier winter barley took a while to take up the first application of nitrogen, but with the warm and sunny days recently it has really taken off and is now growing like mad.

A few historic blackgrass patches are so far looking clean so hopefully the later drilling and competiveness of the crop should have given respectable control.

The T1 was applied in the first week of April and consisted of prothioconazole and bixafen (as Siltra), chlormequat and some manganese.

Tundra winter beans are now getting visibly taller each day and are looking great. The pre-emergence spray seems to have done a very good job as blackgrass is hard to find in all but a few isolated patches, possibly where the combine had stopped or there was a broken bale.

These will be sprayed off with a knapsack as soon as possible to stop them seeding. At the point of writing, an application of bentazone has just been applied to control some small spring germinating broad-leaved weeds, and a fungicide application is planned for next week.

Staff shortage

Once again finding staff is proving to be a challenge, with, it seems, everyone currently advertising with full-time and harvest positions to fill.

With so many jobs available is it making applicants lazy? A lack of CV and covering letter with applications I think shows a lack of effort – which isn’t a good first impression.

If you’re currently looking, drop me an email (with CV and covering letter), as I know of a number of people, including myself, who are looking for staff.

Matt Redman operates a farming and agricultural contracting business specialising in crop spraying, Avadex application and direct drilling in Bedfordshire. He also grows cereals on a small area of tenancy land and was Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year in 2014.