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Talking Arable with Iain Green: Coping with weather extremes

The last month has seen all extremes of weather with cold east winds and night frosts. Some areas near us had more than 75mm of snow in one afternoon.

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Iain Green
Iain Green

This has been a huge contrast from the fine warm dry days we had in the middle of April with temperatures in the high teens. We have had the rain that we required to ensure good germination of spring barley on the heavier land. Thankfully we only received 17mm in the first 10 days of May when some parts of Scotland had received over 55mm.The forecast looks to be improving with warmer weather on the way.


Spring barley drilling was finished on April 23, three weeks later than last year. Seedbeds were good but we need heat to get the crops moving now.


Grass fields which have had cows and ewes with their new born turned out onto them are not managing to grow in front of all the mouths and the livestock are having to be supplemented with feed. It is funny how Mother Nature always averages everything out, it was only a few weeks ago I commented that our silage pits were never going to be empty this spring but that is now happening fast.


On the upland unit I have let the stock graze the fields which should have been shut off for silage in order to allow the grass in the grazing fields to grow. I will still take two cuts of silage from these fields but it probably means that second cut will now coincide with the start of winter barley harvest.


The early-drilled spring barley received its much needed spray of manganese along with herbicide and depending on the variety a mildew protectant by the first week of May.


Variable rate potash has been applied to all fields that required it.


Once again all nitrogen top dressing has been applied in the form of liquids. This has meant that the sprayer has been kept very busy most days either applying nitrogen or spraying, but it is so accurate and you can cover a large area in a day without the need for a loader or the inconvenience of bags.


The one field of spring barley on the lighter land which was not ploughed but only sown with the power harrow drill combination after one pass of the Lemken Karat 9 cultivator looks tremendous. Having missed the timing for pre-emergence herbicide we did manage to spray it early after crop emergence hopefully this will keep the weeds at bay. This method of establishment looks as though it may work on the light land but one major problem is the fact that I would like to apply muck to this soil.


Areas of winter wheat which were drowned out last autumn have now been patched with spring wheat and hopefully this will grow quick enough in order to be harvested at the same time as the rest of the field.


We have sold a number of Simmental bulls from home, at prices which have suited both ourselves and the buyers, several of them were repeat customers which is very pleasing.


The special Simmental cattle sale at Carlisle last month was very successful .We received reserve male champion which later sold for £6510 and sold all our four heifers to a top price of £3675.The May multi-breed sale at Stirling was also successful where we sold our only entry for £4410.


In the meantime our stockman has been busy preparing our show team for this year’s events, the first of which will be the Royal Highland Show. Although this is a huge amount of work and expense, I am sure in the long term it pays off as it is the only advertisement we do to promote our stock.

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