Farmer Focus: Crops have suffered from frosts and drought

A wise man once told me nothing good ever comes with a north wind, and I guess he’s right.

Snow over the Etihad Stadium on 4 May and a ground frost at Belvoir on 5 May…

There is no doubt crops have suffered over the past six weeks, encountering drought conditions and overnight frosts.

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What is interesting is the varietal tolerance differences. Our autumn-drilled Skyfall looks completely unscathed by the weather, yet our Gleam feed wheat looks to have been battered.

Tissue analysis also shows the lack of rain has left the Gleam with a potassium deficiency, even though fresh product has been applied.

On the whole, the winter wheat looks well – I just hope the physiological damage to leaf two doesn’t affect yield too much. Hopefully the Zonda biostimulant will help.

Earlier in the spring, we had a demonstration of a 12m Amazone Condor drill and, I have to say, I was quite pleased with the results.

Wheat was direct-drilled in tough conditions and has emerged well, despite the drought. My only concern is using the same seed as we used with our Amazone Citan.

The Citan is on a 16.6cm row spacing, compared with 25cm on the Condor, thus giving a higher inter-row population and possibly higher competition for nutrition. Only time will tell.

The elderflower harvest is only a few weeks away. However, the flowers have suffered from frost damage and look poor at present.

Mother Nature has certainly got some work to do to get these ready for the end of the month and it’s hard to imagine anything other than an average yield at absolute best.

A couple of years ago, we started an elder variety trial in partnership with the University of Nottingham at Sutton Bonnington, and I’m looking forward to seeing if any varieties show greater weather resilience.

With all the field work up to date, I’m turning my attention again to system costs by comparing our own setup to direct-drilling systems. The problem is that with such high capital costs, we would be no better off financially.

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