I got a call from the local ITV Meridian evening news show for the Thames Valley. They were getting all excited about April moving towards being the driest on record. I wasn’t entirely convinced that this was a news worthy story, but I decided to get involved for two reasons. Firstly it might make it rain, and it has, 4mm so far, some more would be even better. Secondly any opportunity to connect with our customers and talk about some of the wider issues about climate change and UK farming is always worth the effort. Please see the link for the Tuesday 27th April programme. It is the first story so you don’t need to watch for long.
Meanwhile elsewhere on the farm, the spring sown cereals are looking ok except for one of the fields of Skyfall wheat established at the end of February. At the southern end, above the main road from Reading to Henley is a bank of very light chalky soil and this has really struggled with a lack of moisture. The autumn sown cereals, particularly the block that we used for filming look reasonable, but it does need a drink. The continuing cold nights have helped to mitigate some of the effects caused by the lack of moisture. Growth has slowed right down, it is at least a week behind where it should be at this time of year. The wheat can just about get by with fewer available nutrients because of the slow plant development. The nutrient uptake is being restricted by the dry soils. There is still the odd trace of artificial fertiliser on the surface which has not been dissolved. It is too cold and dry to sow the forage maize, it really needs to go in the ground and be able to germinate and grow away quickly. The winter linseed continues to struggle on where the deer and pigeons have been grazing. Elsewhere it is now stem extending but could also do with a drink and less cold nights.
Ever optimistic, at least we have spent less money on the crops so far this year and prices for the grain look good. Give me some warm sunshine and sufficient rain and off we go, the usual spring race around the fields as we try to keep pace with their needs.
What better note to finish on, that now the wonderful Loddon Brewery which has its home in our yard has its tap room open again. Cheers!