March has seen us have our first five days of dry weather in a row since about last April – well that’s what it felt like anyway!

We waited for ground conditions to improve, got all our potash spread, started top dressing our winter wheats with nitrogen and low and behold it started raining again and forgot to stop. Hopefully, the forecast looks like there is drier weather ahead and ground conditions will improve and we can get going again – it really is so frustrating everything being so stop/start.

We did contemplate ripping out a field of poor looking wheat but after looking at it with our agronomist have decided to leave it, as the wheat price may well be better than the malting barley price at harvest. The thinking is that a poor crop of wheat might be worth more than an average crop of barley – who knows?

We have ploughed only 7ha of the approximately 170ha going into spring barley, so we are starting to get a bit twitchy bearing in mind its now past the middle of March – but what can we do when conditions are so bad?

There is a further 16ha going into carrots and another 20ha going into green manure, but cultivations in these crops will need to wait until after spring barley sowing is completed. Variety wise we are growing Sassy for seed, and Sassy, Laureate and Tungsten for malting. Tungsten is a new variety to us and it will be interesting to see how it does.

Straw sales have started to pick up in the last few weeks, likely due to the wet weather and hopefully most of what we still have in the sheds is now spoken for, though there may be a small surplus left.

Lambing is also looming and unfortunately the Irish agriculture student we had coming over to help us is no longer going to be able to make it due to the coronavirus situation. We are completely understanding of the person’s situation and realise that, at the moment, everyone needs to put their health and that of the wider community first.

Both my parents and my husband are extremely concerned about catching the virus and how this would affect their ability to do vital spring tasks like lambing, calving and the spring arable work which we are already so behind on.

As a result, as of last Friday, mam has decided she is social distancing to reduce her risk of catching the dreaded Covid-19, and is only going out to attend appointments and to get food shopping. Calum is also avoiding social contact for fear of catching the bug during calving and is doing the now fortnightly food shop in the middle of the night between calving checks to avoid meeting people.

Hopefully, this pandemic doesn’t have too huge an impact on our industry, but there’s no doubt we will feel the effects in one way or another on our businesses and personal lives, with the virus being a genuine threat to many in the industry due to either age or existing illness, and lack of substitute labour on family farms if people do become unwell.

If anyone is concerned about contracting the virus to the point where they don’t want to leave their house/farm to visit the shops due to being in a higher risk group, please don’t be afraid to ask your neighbours, friends or families to help. There’s no reason why shopping can’t be left on the doorstep to avoid person to person contact, though if you live near us then expect them delivered at approximately 3am, or whenever that heifer has finally calved!