Farmer Focus: All systems go for cereal crops

For a few days it almost felt like spring. The big yellow thing in the sky was shining, it felt warm and it wasn’t raining. Then we had a combination of hail, sleet, rain and wind, all in the space of an hour.

Good progress has been made in trying to catch up on fertiliser and chemical applications. The rape seems to be doing its best to try to go through its growth stages faster than the speed of light. No sooner do I print off a spray sheet than I have to revise it by the time I get on the sprayer.

The wheat has received Atlantis and turned most fields slightly yellow, apart from the ones with high levels of yellow rust. We gave the crop a pre-T0 fungicide to get on top of the rust and then followed up with a robust T0, growth regulator and trace element mix.

The barley is looking green for the first time since it emerged. I have never seen a crop respond so quickly to nitrogen as this hybrid barley. Axial has been used to tidy up some remaining blackgrass plants and was followed up with a fungicide and growth regulator.

All the crops have had variable-rate liquid nitrogen for the first time this year. It will be interesting to look at yield compared with our traditional applications at harvest.

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With the wet winter keeping us off the fields, it allowed our machinery maintenance programme to be completed and new projects to be started. We are gearing our subsoiler rape establishment system up to apply fertiliser at planting, to use the product more efficiently and also to save a pass with the Bateman. With no neonicotinoid seed treatment the sprayer will be busy enough without having to slot liquid nitrogen in as well.

Our SFP forms have arrived in the post, so while it is hailing I will set about registering online and try to get these forms completed and submitted electronically. I had just got the paper forms correct, let’s hope the transfer of information online doesn’t take quite as long to perfect.

Jon Parker manages 1,500ha near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on a medium to heavy land for Ragley Home Farms, predominantly arable growing wheat, oilseed rape, and salad onions. There is also a beef-fattening unit and sheep flock.