Farmer Focus: Spring is here with winter cereals on the move

I love this time of year as the countryside bursts into life and the dreary monochrome of winter gives way to the 50 shades of green that means spring is finally here.

Well at least I hope it is when you get to read this, as I sit here in a gale waiting to go spraying.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

Snowdrops in February and daffodils slowly emerging in mid-March is quite unusual, being late for around here.

The winter cereals are finally on the move having taken up the first dose of nitrogen and sulphur, and the sprayer is all lined up to apply the T0 fungicide and growth regulator.

The oilseed rape is away and the first flowers were just coming out in time for Easter. That leaves a mid-flowering fungicide to apply in a few weeks’ time.

The spring oats, barley and beans were drilled after a period of dry weather during the first part of March. The cereals are up and away and the beans just showing through.

The Plank brothers, our local contractors, have been in and spread the muck in their usual efficient way and will be back in the autumn to harvest the maize on the same ground.

It is good that we can support a local family, who offer an excellent service for work that we are not geared up to undertake ourselves.

So when the soil warms up and frost is less of a threat, then the maize will be sown.

Spending £154m on a system that does not work is criminal, but at least the Rural Payments Agency put their hands up and admitted they had a problem and came up with a plan B.

Wouldn’t it have been good if some of that money had been invested in agricultural research and a much smaller amount used to adapt the single farm payment, which in the end worked quite well?

With Defra likely to get hit by spending cuts from the next government – whichever party it is – the likelihood of this being sorted out for next year is pretty remote.

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize

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