Farmer Focus: Crops play catch-up after a late spring

We completed our spring barley drilling on 8 May and the development of all crops since then has been extremely rapid, with a late season now back to normal timings.

A May drought seems to be a feature of our weather in recent years and while this has been great for getting up to date with fertiliser and spray applications, after three weeks with no rain, crops are suffering. 

Now that we are caught up with spraying spring barley, I am applying the flag leaf spray to wheat.

With the dry weather set to continue, I am taking the opportunity to keep fungicide and growth regulator rates at the lower end of the scale, making some savings from the dry weather.

I am sure oilseed rape flowering will finish quite quickly, so a second flowering spray is not going to be required.

See also: T3 spray tips for battling ear blight in wheat

Government proposals on organic manure storage and application in the future are a concern. While injecting slurry makes a lot of sense, the proposals for solid manure seem less well thought out.

Storing it undercover in sheds is not realistic on a large scale with spread-out fields and I don’t relish trying to cover field heaps in plastic, which will inevitably start to get blown around the countryside.

Muckspreading and ploughing

Depending on the definition of bare land, incorporation within 12 hours of application is a potential issue where we are applying to stubble ahead of ploughing.

The difference in output between muckspreading and ploughing could cause some headaches, with spreading contractors in demand only for the first three hours each morning.

I think there will be much discussion to come on this and hopefully some common sense applied to avoid unintended consequences that outweigh any potential benefits.

If the past few years are a guide, the fact that we are getting ready for silage-making is sure to bring a change in the weather.

I hope we get just the right amount of rain to keep the crops going, but not a return to a bit of rain every day like we had earlier in the year.