Farmer Focus: Warm spring passes 6.5t/acre first-cut budget

What a great end to April and start of May it has been. The weather gods were on our side and we have managed to pump all the slurry, dredge the lagoon, sow all of the maize and – the icing on the cake, get our first cut in the clamp.

The last of those jobs was probably the most nerve-wracking, as the weather did break and the first week of May has been very mixed.

However, we checked the forecast and cut last Saturday, after Friday’s forecasted drizzle turned into 9mm of rain. The sun poked its head out over the weekend and we had a good breeze, but it was cold, so it wasn’t the best wilting weather.

In the end, we bit the bullet and tedded it twice, which didn’t make the chopper man overly happy, given the size of the crops. However, I think we got the dry matter somewhere near where we wanted it.

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Our man on the pit needs a gold medal, as I underestimated the size of the crops, so he really had to cram it all in. I am still very much learning about cropping grass, and what I have learned this time is what a big difference the warm spring has made to the yield.

We have surpassed our budgeted 6.5t/acre, which is a blessing given how low our forage stocks are after last year’s dry summer.

I now have to work out why a couple of our fields haven’t performed how I would have liked, but I suppose that just adds to the mysteries of farming.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our contracting teams. Thanks to Stevie Edwards doing the maize, TA Contracting doing the slurry and, finally, Pip and Rob Edwards, who did the foraging.

It would be great to say it has been my excellent organisation but, in reality, the weather has been on our side and they made sure we took advantage of it.  

Now all we have to look forward to is the small matter of our TB test next week.

Read more about Shropshire farmer Henry Wilson