It’s ten weeks since I posted my first blog (this year) about my concerns over dry soils. I said I’d had a promonition about this being a dry spring and that we had drilled sugar beet early to try to make the most of what moisture there was in the land.
I’m pleased to report that those early drilled beet are looking far better than they deserve to at this stage. A regular and full plant stand emerged and the plants are now at least six inches in diameter. Some combining peas we drilled deep into what moisture there was a couple of weeks after the beet are also looking fair, although what they are living on I do not know.
Since that original expression of concern towards the end of March we have had about half a dozen periods of rain – but none of them have amounted to more than 1mm. A couple of hours after each the sun had dried the soil again and there was not enough in any of these spitting sessions to get down to the roots of anything let alone wash in the nitrogen we had applied.
Like I say, the peas and the beet look reasonable given the weather and so do the early drilled winter wheats. But we have three fields that were drilled with wheat after sugar beet were lifted and they look dreadful. Their root structures have not developed; they haven’t tillered; they haven’t got hold of the top dressing; and I fear the worst in terms of yield and quality. As I have often said – it one of the costs of growing sugar beet which is never fully costed.
Last weekend while friends in other parts of the country who had previously been equally worried about lack of rain had anything between three quarters of an inch and an inch and a half, we had 2.5 mm spread over three days. Neighbours on very light land report that some of their crops are dieing. Others are busy irrigating spring barley and anything else they can spare water for for the first time in their lives.
This is a serious situation and to cap it all the local pigeons are attacking the only crop in the district which is still a little bit succulent. Guess what? Yes, it’s our peas! (Rude words deleted by editor)