This time last year we were emerging from one of the coldest winters of recent memory, writes Chris Carter.
This year, after a prolonged wet winter and a spell of dry settled weather, local crops have galloped ahead, thinking perhaps (if crops are sentient beings!) that they might need to maximise the opportunity to get to harvest before another weather event slows them down.
I cannot recall our oilseed rape finish flowering in early May; this crop makes our springs the colourful affairs they are by providing a panoply of yellow across most of the region. That this happened a full two weeks early certainly points to an early harvest in these parts. I haven’t noticed this phenomenon in other areas.
Our wheats similarly are charging through their growth stages and I suspect we might see ear emergence by the end of this month. This fine, but there will still be plenty of growth potential left in these crops and it’s going to take all the skills of the agronomists to keep them in decent order until harvest, even if it is an early one.
The trouble is that the weather tends to throw out curved balls from time to time and now, having had more than sufficient water over the winter, combined with fine growing conditions up to now, one wonders what surprises lie in store once we get to July. Will we be in the middle of a heatwave then, which stresses the crops when they least need it? Ah the vagaries of the English weather!