Farmer Focus Arable: David Shepherdson needs a crafty grain plan

The complete lack of rain during March and the first half of April produced excellent drilling conditions, and more spring corn going in than for many years certainly demonstrates a farmer’s keen instinct to grow crops.

It’s possibly too keen, for we still have no contracts for our winter or spring malting barley, which we usually sell forward to make room for wheat at harvest.

With last year’s wheat still filling the store, a cunning plan will be required to create some much needed extra storage.

A second lap around the crops with nitrogen has been completed, with winter barley dressing now finished at 105 units/acre. Winter rape and wheat have another 40 units left for a third dose at a later date. I can’t wait to see what fertiliser manufacturers come up with to try to get anyone to order early next season.

The ewes have almost finished lambing producing a good crop. The earliest arrivals now have a creep in with them in the hope that the price holds up; the rest will run on grass through the summer.

The other livestock on the farm are six pedigree Highland heifers, the elder two of which have just gone to visit the bull for a couple of months.

The next job on the horizon is preparing for the ACCS annual inspection. I’m all for basic checks on grain storage facilities, but record keeping for crop spraying is a real bore. And now we’re going to have to duplicate field records to comply with the new NVZ rules.

Just a thought on DEFRA’s surplus of blue tongue vaccine which needs getting rid of before it goes out of date – give it away on a first-come, first-served basis and I’m sure it will all quickly find a home.

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