Just as winter crops and grassland on the light soils were starting to suffer through drought we have been blessed with enough rain to keep them green and growing well.
We have actually had rain every day for the first 10 days of May, I was being blamed for asking and praying for it, but as I told everybody I didn’t want it all at once.
Today as I sit writing this article the temperature outside is 16 degrees and you can almost see all the crops growing. I am just away to catch a flight to the Pig Fair at Stoneleigh, it will be interesting to see the crops from south of the border from the air.
The rain has held up the sprayer but a few dry days and we will have caught up again. The biggest decision of the growing season has been made: whether to apply a final growth regulator, and if so, how much? It is always difficult to decide, if we get a very dry sunny May and June then the winter barley on the lighter soils will not require any, but if we get a wet spell of weather then often all the winter barley can go flat and be difficult to harvest. The other factor I have to consider is that we need all the straw that the cereals can produce in order to bed and feed the livestock enterprises, thus it is a fine balance between tall crops and flat crops. I have applied a low rate on all light land winter barley as insurance.
The winter barley on the early light land is now in full head, which looks good for an early harvest. This cannot come quick enough as we will be buying feed barley for our pig herd until the new crop and our own straw will run out by the third week in July.
As well as the sprayer being very busy our stockman also has been preparing our team of pedigree Simmentals for our first show of the season, The Royal Highland Show at Edinburgh.
One problem which is ever-increasing in our winter cereals is sterile brome. So far it is only on the headlands next to the fence line.
Thankfully all our cereals are sown on ploughed land so hopefully we will be able to keep this weed under control. The big worry I have is it will be spread to the other fields and areas by machinery and end up uncontrollable.
Spring barley is racing through it growth stages and looking very well on both light and heavy land.
I have been very fortunate to trial a new cloud based crop management package from Agrovista. Axis is a system offering a huge step forward in collating all our arable records keeping, soil maps, yield maps and also allows our agronomist and farm office to be kept up to date with any changes or application made during the growing season. In the past a lot of our data was fragmented and kept in different files and had to be recorded manually, which can be time consuming in busy times.
With this system everything is under one umbrella and readily available. It has the facility to allow any member of staff or the agronomist to log any points of weeds, crops or soil concerns at any time while they are in the field. All recommendations made by the agronomist are automatically updated into our records.
This year will also see us yield map all our grass silage fields and compare this with our future applications of FYM, slurry and fertiliser. It has been very successfully within our cereal enterprise and I feel that we should be treating our grass in the same way.