Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Reck tackles spring drilling

The dry cold weather has allowed us to make significant progress with the spring drilling with the ground cultivated in ideal conditions.

Nightly frosts kept soil temperatures low, but this increased quickly as the weather became milder.

All of the Frontier spring barley has been sown on the earlier, lighter ground along with some of the Azalea. Higher than normal seed rates were used to take account of the lower soil temperatures to allow for some seed loss due to cold soils.

This is emerging fast in the mild weather and will be top-dressed with Sulcan when the crop is at the “tramlines visible” stage.

However, the heavy rain and wintry weather which arrived at the end of March halted the land work. It took a few days to dry before we started the top dressing. Creating ruts is never an issue, but bringing clay out on the road is becoming a serious one.

The remaining Azalea and Quench spring barley will be sown as soon as conditions allow. This split in the drilling will help spread ripening at harvest, thus easing the work load on the combines. Fingers crossed the weather will play its part.

The Bateman sprayer has had an extensive pre-season check and is ready for its third season. It makes a difference to know you can sit on the machine and go and spray whenever a crop is due and never miss an opportunity due to breakdowns.

Ireland will see a significant reduction in the area planted to spring barley. This, unfortunately, will not result in a rise in grain prices at harvest due to production overseas and carry-over from last year. There is little straw left from last harvest so there should be a good market next winter supplementing the poor grain price.

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