Farmer Focus: Struggling crops and no cereal grazing

Wet, wet, wet. Not a huge amount of excitement out there at this stage in the year. Fields are saturated and crops are struggling.

Our wheat and barley have faired quite well considering, but they are certainly running out of steam and showing signs of yellowing on the older leaves.

If it wasn’t for our early February nitrogen sulphur application to the barley I think we’d be looking at a very poor yield potential this spring.

But the 30kg/ha of our DS+ fertiliser has given them something to bite into and produce a few tillers.

See also: Why leaf layer emergence is key to accurate fungicide use

About the author

Richard Harris
Richard Harris manages his family farm in partnership with his father in south Devon. The farm grows wheat, barley, linseed, grass and cover crops, with a small pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
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The sheep are finishing up the cover crops which are mainly turnips with the odd vetch and phacelia plant which survived the winter.

With mild winter temperatures, I fear the last field of turnips will bolt by the second half of March and start to flower before the sheep arrive. Something for the bees, I guess!

For the second year running, conditions have not suited cereal grazing. This year’s crops would have suited a graze well, but soil conditions thought otherwise.

This is something I felt would be tricky to master without our own sheep and the flexibility to move them between cereal fields and permanent pasture, but we’ll see what next year brings.

Once conditions do dry, I’ll be out with the spade digging a few soil profile pits to see what structure we have, and the cultivation needed before the linseed.

I’m expecting just an inch or two with the discs where the sheep have compacted the top while grazing, but you never know with a season that keeps on giving.

With old crop grain still to sell, current prices could not be more uninspiring – especially when grown on £700/t fertiliser.

You don’t get it all right, but lord we got that one wrong, which might live long in the memory and help us sell a little more strategically in future.

The continuous rain, along with a few other projects inspired us to buy a Kubota digger.

After what we have experienced this winter, it has many ditching and drainage jobs in front of it.

For now, like most, we wait on some drier weather to appear to get the tyres moving again.

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