We are now moving into a quieter time here at Ballicherry which mainly consists of spraying, roguing seed wheat and barley crops and tidying up around the farm in preparation for harvest.

We usually spend a few days making silage for the sheep, but we have enough high quality silage/haylage left over from last year that we won’t need to make any this year. A few of our grass fields have also been pulled back into the arable rotation for a few years, so it suits us not to make silage to ensure we have enough grazing.

Lambs have all been wormed and vaccinated with Ovi-vac for Pasturella and Clostridial diseases. We don’t normally vaccinate lambs, however, we were advised to do so by our vet following a number of cases of pneumonia in young lambs.

Carrot lifting is now finished after what feels like a long and busy six weeks lifting five to six days a week, alongside drilling next year’s crop. The dry weather has definitely impacted establishment of our cover crops which are patchy in places, and after the recent wetter spell, seem to be getting a bit swamped by weeds. However, the earlier dry spell may have helped to improve the underground biomass of the oil radish, as when I pulled a few plants last week the roots were down a good 10 + cm already.

While we certainly haven’t had the drought conditions experienced in some parts of the country, things were looking a little dry in places and the rain over the past week will definitely have helped boost crop growth at this time.

The winter wheats which looked abysmal all winter seem to have globally improved, though areas which were very wet still look a lot poorer. But, all in all, crops do look like they’ve somewhat recovered from the persistently wet winter weather.

The T2 spray was applied last week to the wheat crops, and they have all also received their third application of nitrogen.

Spring barley crops have looked consistently good since drilling, though due to the drier weather they may have lost some of their straw yield potential, so big straw yields like last year are looking unlikely, though only time will tell.

We have been keeping a close eye on the wheat futures markets as we are yet to sell any of our wheat and have a small tonnage of spring barley still to lock in. There seems to be so many variables at play at the moment, it is hard to know what to do in regards to marketing. We have held off selling anything more since the first week of lockdown and have a few loads set on, probably, unrealistic targets.

We are going to wait a while longer to see if the weather makes a sustained change towards more typical summer conditions as it looks like this will have a big impact on price. However, with so many things happening in the world at present affecting markets it seems to be just a bit of a guessing game.

Normally we all try and take a week or so off in June, with Calum and I venturing to New York for five nights last year, which was certainly an eye opener for two teuchtars like us.

This year, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than go on an eight hour transatlantic flight to the most densely populated city in the USA. Walking around the farm on an evening looking at the crops, with daylight until 11pm and an abundance of wildlife, including lots of wild birds such as yellow wagtails, swallows and ospreys, it really does make you realise just how fortunate we are.