Farmer Focus: Lack of April showers hits winter barley yield

The lack of rainfall in April will certainly affect the winter barley yield. After coming out of a wet winter, the last thing it needed was a drought and continuous frosts.

Fungicide and fertiliser programmes have been pulled back in line with yield expectations.

The winter wheat is still looking OK. Very little has been spent on it, as we are growing Extase and Siskin, which have good disease-resistance scores. Final doses of nitrogen will go on this week, ahead of the forecasted rain.

T2s will be later than usual and will be based around Revystar because if septoria gets going here, it can be devastating.

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We also have some wheat trials looking at trace elements, amino acids, muck and mystery, so it will be interesting to see the return on capital on resistant varieties.

Spring wheat is the crop looking the best at present, but this has probably just put a nail in its coffin.

The crop has just not stopped growing since planting with some home-saved undressed seed and 150kg/ha of nitrogen. As it is a low-input cereal, it should return a healthy margin.

Maize planting started in earnest when soils reached 10C. I had invested heavily in soil thermometers, and I think I have collected them all back in, only losing one to a cultivator.

Maize planting was all undertaken by our local contractor, James Bell, and his superb operator, David.

All was planted with their new 12-row Tempo drill on 500mm spacings. The main reason for narrower spacings was the ability to tramline, apply digestate later in the season and suppress weeds as the canopy closes faster.

Pre-emergence sprays and liquid fertiliser will go onto this crop early next week.

Over the past few weeks, a few film crews have visited the farm to make various productions, and we are also hosting our first event since lockdown – a car rally.

It is nice for things to start to get back to normal after a fairly trying 18 months, and we have a lot of events in the pipeline.

Let’s all pray for some warmer weather and steady rain to give these crops the helping hand they need after difficult growing conditions to date.

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