South: Spring drilling progress causing frustration

I look back with great amusement at the pre- and early post-Christmas predictions being made about the crops in the ground at the time. “Very lush and forward!”… “Rife with rust and mildew!”… “Growth regulators will be in short supply…” and so on.

Here we are now, getting towards the end of April, and I have very few wheat crops anywhere near GS32, with many only just started to extend. Some haven’t even been able to get a decent dose of fertiliser yet as ground conditions haven’t allowed. I bet they’re all in flower by the end of the first week in June though; anybody hoping to get four fungicide sprays on between now and then had better warn their sprayer operators to get some kind of sleeping accommodation in their cabs.

Spring drilling, especially on the heavier ground, has been frustratingly sporadic. Just as the soil gets anywhere near manageable we get another great dollop of rain that puts it back a month. On 17 April the north side of my house went down to -3C. No wonder the crops that have been drilled have been taking their time to emerge. Let’s hope we get our heatwave in August this year, not June, just as the peas and beans are flowering. Once again, I wonder if the lower cost of urea is worth it, as it takes so long to get into the plants when soil temperatures are this low.

The glyphosate decision has generated some lively conversation. It does alarm me quite how much power these non-scientific environmental bodies have in Brussels. If we pulled out of Europe, would the Pesticides Action Network lose all of its clout? Now there’s a thought…

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