South: Ground dried up nicely

I came back from holiday in mid – March to find everybody drilling madly and fertiliser going on everywhere. When I left I thought it would be weeks before anybody would be able to get back on the ground again, and news of 75mm rain during the first week I was away compounded that resign.

But it’s amazing what a few days of desiccating north-easterly winds can do. The water had also drained through the profile quite well too so generally speaking the soil structures seem to be in pretty good shape.

None of the crops, though, had moved at all, or if anything had gone backwards. Winter rape was a miserable purple colour and had not responded to any applied nitrogen. Pigeons have been a nuisance in some areas, but in general there is still a plant and I have every faith in the crop’s ability to compensate, especially after last year.

I have heard some reports where some plants have died due to waterlogging, but fortunately they are few and far between. Any outstanding fungicide recommendations I have told people to hold off until stem extension, if appropriate.

As far as cereals are concerned, I have just been making sure outstanding autumn herbicides are still ok to go ahead and most crops will by now have had their first nitrogen  and sulphur. I have not seen one speck of yellow rust anywhere.

I love the way these rumours take hold. By the time this goes to press I might have started my first PGR tickets on the most forward of my wheats but at the moment I have seen nothing that causes me any alarm on that front.

I have a feeling that by the time this comes out things will have changed dramatically. The recent rains combined with the rise in daytime temperatures will have woken these hungry crops up to a nice supply of readily available nitrogen. As I write I can see the crops changing colour almost by the hour. Better get my skates on.

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