Farmer Focus: Assessing winter crops for targeted input

With a bit of good weather, it feels like spring has finally sprung. Over the past week the ground has dried up enough to travel on, so we could give the first application of nitrogen to all winter crops and the silage grass.

As crops emerge from winter, we can see the results of what can be classed as a wet winter.We received a total of 307mm of rain from 1 November 2020 to 28 February 2021 (not including 157mm in October 2020).

See also: Epoxiconazole: How to fill the fungicide gap

One block of winter barley drilled five days before a large rain event at the beginning of October has suffered the worst.

Hopefully, the nitrogen now applied will help pick it up so we can assess its potential.

All the winter crops will be assessed for yield potential so the management of inputs can be targeted, based on the individual estimated output of each field/group of fields.

A block of Extase wheat after a poor crop of winter beans looks very well. There are a lot of volunteer beans that are doing a great job as a nitrogen source.

How long would you keep them in? Or could you take the wheat and the beans to harvest? This could be one way of getting the header losses back from last harvest.

Lambing has been the main focus for the past month, with 877 ewes lambed in a four-week period. We had 800 of them lamb in just two and a half weeks.

Once again, we had additional help, but the team has worked very hard to ensure the safe arrival of a lot of lambs in a short space of time.

A good spell of weather over the past 10 days has allowed one-third of the ewes with lambs at foot to graze on 60ha of rye and vetch, ahead of spring drilling.

They all seem to be doing very well and are on regular moves with electric break fences.

Quality forage and early turnout has helped to reduce our concentrate use for the ewes by one-third.

Elsewhere, a very cold week in February allowed for some much-needed ditch and drain maintenance. Having the time to carry out this work is so important.

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