Farmer Focus: Dry time sees spring crops sown in good time

I have moaned too much in previous articles about how it is always wet in this part of the country right at the very time we want to be getting on, so having this prolonged dry spell is an absolute pleasure.

The spring crops went in well and in good time, with drilling completed within seven days by 15 April, as opposed to the drawn-out affair we have experienced in recent years.

These crops are now emerging well, with only areas with higher clay contents slower to do so.

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Maximum effort was made to conserve moisture. However, conditions were so good that we took the opportunity to subsoil before establishing the peas. I only hope this does not come back to haunt us if we have a wet time at harvest.

We do have some poor-looking wheat that hasn’t gotten out of the starting blocks since it was put in the ground – so much so that its potential just does not seem to be there.

Considering the weather and low disease pressure, a T0 spray was left out and the T1 fungicide comprised a prothiconazole + triazolinthione and chlorothalonil mix. A decision will be made nearer T2 timing about what we go in with next.

The variability within the crops has made spray timings particularly difficult to get right so far this season. I think the most influential factor has been drilling date, which seemed to have shown up more distinctively this year than in other years.

Our BPS application has now been submitted. I assisted with putting our claim together and was impressed with the online system. It helped that all our land and entitlements were present and correct.

I cannot imagine what it was like to complete in a paper format.


Jack Hopkins is the assistant farm manager on a 730ha estate in north Herefordshire on predominantly silty clay loam soils. Cropping includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, spring oats and peas, plus grassland that supports a flock of 1,000 ewes and 25 pedigree Hereford cattle.