WORD ON THE GROUND: Rain not a pain for farmers

Tony Gent
Tony Gent
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I started writing this before Wednesday’s rain last week. The long, dry spell and the prospect of a 1976-style summer drought was on every farmer’s mind, but most of country has now had some satisfactory amounts of rain. We have recorded 63mm or approx 2 ½ inches.

Autumn-sown cereals and oil seed rape are looking mostly good in this area, with their established roots well down into moisture, although some crops were beginning to show signs of lack of nitrogen uptake with the dry conditions, especially on lighter soils.

Some spring crops that were sown later, on heavy soils, have struggled to establish, but rain has given all spring-sown crops a very welcome boost.

Also, it’s the time of year where we start to see the dreaded grass weed we call ‘Black Grass’ pop out above our winter cereals, which shows how successful or otherwise we have been with our herbicide programme during the previous autumn and winter.

This weed has become difficult to control, with early-sown intensive winter cropping and resistance build-up to selective herbicides.

We have been advised by our agronomists to sow winter cereal crops later avoiding the warmer conditions that grass likes to germinate, also any germination that has taken place before you sow can be taken out by broad spectrum herbicide.

But from a practical view, on heavy soil, the risk of being able establish late-sown crops on heavy soil is very great.

In reality, yowu have some of each with a robust rotation including spring cropping to help control the problem, there is a large residue of seed in the soil, so it’s a problem we will have for many years to come.