South: Please, enough is enough

Occasionally there is a temptation to look up at the sky and plead “OK, OK, enough is enough, we know you’re Omnipotent and all that, and we’re very sorry for whatever we’re supposed to have done, but can we now just get on with a bit of farming?”

I cannot remember a time in my career in arable farming when the weather has been quite so relentless. The late winter wheats, spring wheats, spring barley etc all went in to lovely seed-beds (prompting comments like “Why do we bother trying to do stuff in the autumn?”). Only to be followed by four inches of freezing rain, snow and piercing easterly winds.

Heavy ground was chipped up to be aerated for spring beans only to be turned into porridge again. The latest sensible time for sowing spring beans (mid-April) is fast approaching and the forecast doesn’t look like anything will be happening for another week at least.

Probably less than 25% of my wheats will justify a T0 fungicide spray this year and a “normal” growth regulator regime. The majority will have a standard T1, maybe a bit of chlormequat and some weed control. I have many crops where the inputs will have to be managed accordingly on the assumption that the yields will be much lower than usual. Perhaps these late drilled winter wheats will only have two fungicides.

This time last year I commented after an unusually dry winter that nature has an uncanny way of catching up with itself. So here’s to a prolonged drought and some searing temperatures. That’ll be all we need to ensure this year has been one of the most challenging on record.

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