Farmer Focus: Cold wet April was hindrance, says Philip Reck

The dry March was appreciated by everyone to get through the considerable workloads carried over from the autumn.

The lack of winter cereals in the surrounding countryside is quite noticeable, with spring barley the predominant crop.

Unfortunately, the good weather was short-lived and April and May have been cold and wet, with a wind that reminds you of early spring rather than early summer.

It was May before we could return to the last remaining field to sow it; it was notably kinder and warmer than in March. Some wet patches in fields have been re-sown.

The rainfall, although not excessive, seemed able to keep these patches continuously wet throughout April.

No one would have expected April to be so unforgiving. The harsh weather has left its mark on crops – yellowing on headlands and patchy areas are all too common. These areas contrast markedly with headlands where a high hedge has shielded part of the crop from the driving wind and rain.

The brief dry spell also allowed us to drill some spring oilseed rape, which has not featured on this farm for a number of years. The variety Palladium was sown at 4kg/ha using our Vaderstad Seed Hawk drill.

The packer wheel has done a nice job of just covering the seed with fine firm soil and it will be interesting to see how this establishment compares to the Rapid drill we normally used. The option to sow using only the back legs at 30cm spacings is very interesting.

The TopDown cultivator has been fitted with a Bio-Drill to sow cover crops on land destined for spring cropping in accordance with our Nitrates Directive. These covers will help to prevent the land from slumping over winter and keep the soil in good condition for spring drilling.

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