Our Farm: Wet winter recovery & Spring Barley drilling preparation

It’s been four months since we last filmed down at the company farm at West Burton near the village of Bamburgh in Northumberland.

During that time, we’ve experienced a wet winter. After a relatively dry November with just 11.15mm of rainfall, December had 89.42mm of rainfall, January 107.69mm and February 76.95mm.

Incredibly, 66.81mm of February’s rainfall total came within five days – February 3-8 – and, since then, thankfully it has been largely dry and quite windy as well because it really was soaking down here after that week.

Now, things are starting to wake up, it’s nice to see some movement and we’re waiting patiently for the ground to dry out fully so spring barley drilling can get underway.

We’ve had some fertiliser on all of our winter crops now to help things move on and we’re starting to think about our first sprays onto our oil seed rape and winter barley, whereas the wheat is still a little while off yet.

Establishment has been good and our autumn weed control has done a great job, so we’ve got really clean crops and hopefully we won’t need to do too much more.

We regularly have some issues with pigeons and geese and with not living on-site, it’s difficult to scare them away to the point that they don’t return. The pigeons eat the leaves of the oil seed rape and the geese the leaves of the winter barley.

This curbs the development of the winter barley in particular but, now that they’ve left, we’ll be able to put down some proper top-growth so they can move on.

We’ve got some forward crops – especially our field of oil seed rape – so we’re going to have to carefully manage our inputs to manage the canopy. It’s a similar story for our wheat as well. Both are on quite good ground so sometimes the crops can get away from us a little bit so we just have to be careful and on the ball.

Meanwhile, the ground that has been cultivated for our LG Diablo spring barley looks dry on the top but is still wet underneath, so we just need to be patient and wait for the conditions to be right before drilling it, which should be in the next couple of weeks – so fingers crossed everything stays dry.

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