East: A brief flurry of activity

When I sat down to write my report last month snow was falling and a month on, snow falls once again despite temperatures of 15°C only 10 days ago. Fortunately though, the spell of drier weather has allowed us to get on with field work, with nitrogen applied to most crops 2-3 weeks ago to tick one job off the list before spring drilling began; prioritising slow backward crops to ensure nitrogen was available when growth began.

Unfortunately the continued cold weather means growth has been slow to non-existent. However, on the more forward, well established crops there are signs of new growth. Some of the thin, backward, unrolled autumn drilled land has now been rolled to improve rooting, but the soil still needs to warm before any significant growth begins.

Timing of further nitrogen applications will depend on the weather and how the crop has responded to the first dose, however, when conditions warm nitrogen needs to be available to allow crops to outpace pigeon and rabbit grazing.

Oats, spring barley and spring bean drilling has progressed well into some very good seed-beds on the lighter land. Where ground had been cultivated and drilled there were even mutterings of the seed-beds wanting some rain which duly arrived!

On the heavier land the surface had dried, but was still very wet underneath and the dry spell allowed us to pull some tines through to break the surface, allowing air into the soil to help it dry out. Hopefully if we get another dry spell we will be able to create a seed-bed on this land now it has been opened up and get a crop planted.

Slugs continue to be a problem on slow developing, backward crops and the next priorities when conditions warm is grassweed control in wheat along with fungicides and crop nutrition on oilseed rape when new green leaf appears.

Finally, following many years’ service my old faithful pair of wellies, which I have become quite attached to over the last 9 months, have decided they too have had enough of this season with the sole splitting resulting in a rather unpleasant wet, muddy foot last week. I blame it on the time spent crouching down checking on slugs and trying to find plants, but hopefully the re-investment will trigger a change to drier conditions. We can but hope!

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