Well nearly almost all the spring cropping was drilled, but not quite. After having to wait patiently for soil conditions to improve we eventually managed to finish spring drilling in early May, thanks to some greatly appreciated long hours from the team to make the most of the weather opportunities.
The earliest fields, drilled towards the end of April, took longer than expected to come through, (despite chitting in two days) as the temperatures dropped, but the later drilled crops got away very quickly. Our aim of establishing cover crops in the autumn for direct drilling into in the spring did not go according to plan due to the wet conditions in September, meaning a larger area of spring barley ground was ploughed. Despite the late drilling, black-grass has continued to emerge this spring, although there are big differences between the min-till cultivations in the autumn and the ploughed land, with very little black-grass currently evident following ploughing.
I have recently been walking the winter wheat for T2 plans and I am reminded each year that farming is a collection of averages mixed with compromise. We are continually reminded that timing is key for all inputs, however we can never be as specific as advised for every hectare, in every year. This year I am sure we were not alone in missing optimum growth stages; however, we have managed to get caught up at last.
Some of the wheat is showing the effect of the large swing in sunlight and daytime temperatures that occurred around the time the T1s were applied, with some transient crop effects evident on final leaf 3. Despite the wet conditions this winter and into spring, some of the crops look remarkably clean, particularly the later drilled ones. Hopefully I can keep them this way for the remainder of the season in order to make the most of the sunlight. Trying to forecast yield is always difficult at this point in the season, as crops may have built up a large amount of potential, but it can all still change depending on the weather going forward. It helps us to try and manage expectations going forward as well as for planning harvest movements, so it is a useful exercise, even if it is likely to need modifying again before harvest.
Probably the most pleasing outcome from the recent inspection of wheat fields is the level of black-grass now just starting to stick out the top of the crop. That is not to say it cannot be found, but a combination of the steps we have put in place to manage the problem, combined with a decent autumn for herbicide efficacy, has resulted in a good level of control this season. Any areas identified will be mapped, and hopefully good use can be made of the rouging team this year to really get on top of some of these fields.
The winter beans have begun to move again, with crops now in flower. These have recently received their first fungicide and alerts were posted on the beeconnected website where necessary. I just hope the relevant individuals are alerted as it does seem to be a good tool for connecting farmers with beekeepers.
Planning has long been underway for this years Open Farm Sunday. This will be the third year of hosting the event, which we combine with Creaton in Bloom, meaning it will be held a week earlier than the official date this year on June 3. As with anything that gets repeated regularly, finding different messages to keep interest can be a challenge, but this year we will focus on variability and highlighting the steps we are currently taking to manage it.