I realise now how easy it was in March, with seemingly endless dry days that let us get though the early spring work relatively easily. I am also grateful for the “April showers” that have helped our crops along a bit.
Although we are still technically in a drought situation, the growing crops are certainly enjoying some much-needed moisture. The frustration is trying to keep ahead of the spraying schedule with the showery weather.
Our sugar beet is growing well and is off to a good start. Unfortunately the broad-leaved weed burden is also very apparent and I need to get the all-important early herbicides on quickly to be on top of the challenge, which will potentially reduce weed control issues later in the season.
The spring beans have also emerged well, having been direct drilled into over-wintered stubbles. However, potato planting has been held up, which is a bit frustrating, but not yet a big problem for us, so long as the seed does not get too enthusiastic in the trays.
I am grateful to those that have been in touch since I wrote in March about my frustration at still not receiving my Single Farm Payment. I am pleased that at least one of those in contact has now been paid, but very disappointed to report that some of us are still waiting.
When I can get through to him, my case worker has been helpful, as have his colleagues when he is not available. But for some reason, my claim seems to have been stuck somewhere, apparently awaiting a positive entitlement correction exercise. It is adding pressure on the cash flow with rent, fuel, fertiliser and agrochemical invoices all to be paid.
Happily, Richard Wordsworth, the NFU SPS advisor, is also chasing the RPA for me and some other claimants, and I hope to have positive news soon.
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Farmer Focus: Phil Bradshaw