By Rachel Young

We kicked off drilling spring barley (SB) on the 31st of March, which is only a day earlier than last year. We thought we would have started about a fortnight earlier after the dry autumn and early spring we had. Unfortunately after the prolonged dry period we had a few very wet weeks around the first half of March and it has taken the ground a long time to dry out following this, with there still being plenty of fields not fit to drill, and the potential for hot spots in even the drier ones. We started the drilling campaign with KWS Sassy destined for malting and once this is done we will move onto drilling our seed Sassy, followed by seed Diablo, and finish up with the malting Laureate – all going to plan! In total we have about 160ha of spring barley going in; 70ha seed, 90ha malting. This is back a bit on our usual SB area but we have an increased area of ground let out for carrots this year, just with the way the field rotation has worked out. Dad is complaining of all over body ache following cultivating ends in one of our older tractors. His beloved high comfort Fastrac which is usually on the cultivator is laid up in the workshop following the diff imploding while he was 50 miles away delivering straw a few weeks ago, and after leaving at 3pm he got home after midnight on the back of a low loader. Hopefully it will be fixed within the coming week, until the next time… The geese are already here in their thousands and keeping them moving on is a nightmare, especially when everyone is so busy.

We applied potash to all our winter crops with our new KRM fertiliser spreader in the last days of February and it worked an absolute dream with the section control and auto shut off working with the GPS. We didn’t use it variable rate as wanted to get used to the basics of it first. I couldn’t believe just how accurate the weigh cells were, and had under 20kg left after finishing the last field. The accuracy of it has made us have a potential re-think about carrying on with liquid fertiliser for the first nitrogen application of the season to winter crops. We applied liquid to the earliest crops three weeks ago and it was such a hassle putting the dribble bars on/off and calibrating them to do 30ha, and then going through the same thing again to do the remaining 20ha. Added to the fact that with the wet weather we had we couldn’t travel with the sprayer so had to wait, while we definitely could have spread granular, it has got us thinking. We do still plan to continue with liquid for the majority of our fertiliser though as it has definitely improved the evenness of our crops. Our T0 spray has been applied to our earliest field of wheat, and OSR has also received its first fungicide and trace element spray, with the rest of the wheat due to be sprayed later this week. The recent news about the loss of Chorothalonil (CTL) is certainly concerning for us for the wheat, but mainly for use in the spring barley, and we are keen to find out more about what alternatives we are going to be using and just how effective, or expensive, they are going to be.

Lambing is well underway now and has been moving very quickly, with 40% of ewes lambed within 4 days of their first due date. We were initially a little disappointed with our scanning results being a wee bit back on the previous year at 175%, but now we are into lambing we are not missing all the hassle caused by triplets. We treated Mam on Mother’s Day to a Ritchie ‘Lamb Pram’ which she was delighted with and put into action straight away during our day spent in the lambing shed– who needs prosecco afternoon tea anyway?