Farmer Focus Arable: Allan Chambers sees farm benefits in cold, dry spring

The cold, late, dry spring is having its benefits on this farm. We normally struggle to control rhynchosporium and septoria tritici, but this year crops have never been cleaner. With all the nitrogen fertiliser on, (240kg/ha on winter wheat, 190kg/ha on winter barley and 150kg/ha on sugar beet, feeding the crop is completed.

I only know three components of yield: average ears/sq m, multiplied by average filled grain sites/ear, multiplied by average weight/grain. I always count nutrient supply at the correct time as being responsible for maximising the first two, given good establishment, but the third is governed by sunshine hours and the maintenance of the maximum healthy green leaf area. I firmly believe that modern fungicides produce cost-effective yield benefits even in the absence of visible disease. We will therefore stick with our three sprays on wheat and two on barley. This does not apply to our 15ha of poorly established late sown, crow damaged wheat. A wait and see policy applies here.

The recent UFU Annual General Meeting saw the election of a new team. Members faced choosing two out of four potential deputy presidents based on a five-minute presentation from each. Surely there must be a better way to elect the prospective future leader of Northern Ireland’s most important production based industry? Best wishes to the new team, you have a huge challenge ahead.

A week in Italy provided a welcome holiday for my wife and I. A coach trip through the Po Valley en route to Venice, showed disappointing looking crops. However, even an average crop of Italian wheat is more interesting than statues and canals.

Mistake of the month: Unhitched the car trailer, but didn’t disconnect the lights, resulting in having to get glasses, tape, knife, a screwdriver and spend an hour putting it right. But then we’ve all done it, haven’t we?

• To read more from Allan Chambers click here or read more from our other Farmer Focus Arable writers.