Farmer Focus: Cold May hampers spring crop growth

“Nithered” is a word that I expected only 59 of the new members of the House of Commons to understand. However, it surprised me to discover that it is not a good Scots word such as “dreich”, but is actually a Yorkshire word used to describe a feeling of being intensely cold.

I have been “nithered” in May.

Let’s hope by the time you read this it will be a balmy, beautiful summers day. But as I write, the disappointing temperatures and icy north-westerly winds are not encouraging spring-planted crops and grass to grow.

However winter wheat from the sprayer cab looks good and is benefiting from the timely applications to keep the pesky septoria at bay – I just try not to think about the value of the stuff sloshing about in the tank behind me.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

I looked back at the recommendations for that spray made in 2005 and the bill was just over £13/ha for the fungicides. Now its nearly £35/ha.

Last month I slated the new electronic application forms for the Basic Payment Scheme. I would like to offer my gratitude to the people in our local Scottish government agricultural office, who have been absolutely magnificent, patient and helpful in dealing with the gripes and problems I – and probably most of the region’s farmers – had in getting to grips with the new system.

It is always a relief to be able to speak to a real person on the other end of the phone who can offer reassuring advice on how to do it correctly.

Last month’s article was written on the eve of a big change to the way we sell our cattle, as we put them up for sale in the store ring.

It is our intention to try to increase our cow numbers and concentrate on that rather than complicating our lives by trying to finish them as well.

Believe me, it was a nerve-racking few minutes as the lots went under the hammer. There is no second chance once the gavel drops, but I can safely say we were satisfied with the day’s work.

Neil Thomson

Neil Thomson farms 607ha in partnership with his father and brother from Caverton Mill, Kelso, on the Scottish Borders, growing combinable crops and brassicas. Some of the mainly medium loam is let for potatoes, and the farm also has cattle and sheep.


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