Drills and drought

Sitting at my desk in my coat on 8 May with a bitterly northern wind checking the spring wheat and only 9.9mm of rain in April reminds me once again that no two springs are the same.

Spring drilling was completed of a very timely fashion this year almost three weeks ahead of last. Mulika spring wheat direct drilled on 31 March into desiccated cover crops is the best performer of the spring crops so far, with spring beans not far behind but spring oats drilled into winter ploughed and pressed dust bowls are a distant third. I have to have some sympathy for my drill man this spring, however, as we continue to use multiple different drills in an attempt to gauge what we can about which ones are most suitable. We tried four different types this spring and I’m not sure I’m much wiser other than reinforcing the fact that different drills suit different conditions.

The dry weather has allowed us to catch up with spraying. T1’s on winter wheat were completed on 6 May which has given us a window to apply and start to look at some bio stimulant products on wheat grass leys and beans. The drought conditions should be ideal to show any potential benefits of these products in stressed crops. Routine tissue sampling over the past three seasons has often shown a K deficiency in our crops so we are this year carrying out a replicated trial looking at different products and rates in an attempt to come up with a solution. Our relationship with our tame tenant trials company is enabling us to properly take the trial to yield with the help of their trials equipment, something we haven’t done before and very much appreciate and would like to continue with.

The first cut of silage was taken from one of our three year leys this week and  I was very grateful that I hadn’t planted winter wheat in it as I saw multiple black-grass stems go into the forage wagon. However it remains to be seen at what stage the seeds become viable and how many of them are destroyed somewhere along the milk production pathway? Hopefully more than along the arable crop pathway.

Plans are developing for our summer farm walk on June 20 so please put it in the diary. The aim for the morning is to very much look at ‘what’s new’ rather than what we’ve always done which should generate plenty of debate. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible to discuss the merits of the different approaches we are trying this year.

Here’s to getting just the right amount of rain sometime soon!

JackSmith

JackSmith

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