Tillage: Weather and soil conditions all point to a very late spring
Despite the early Easter this will be a very late spring. Weather and soil conditions curtailed any significant field work in March with only light land sown at this stage. Ploughing and sowing of the heavier land continues to remain difficult.
All growers would like to have their sowings completed at this stage, however it is still best to delay for a few more days to allow sowing conditions to improve. Crops sown in poor conditions will struggle throughout the year.
A good seed bed allows crops to take off quickly when weather conditions improve. In addition to the weather holding back work, there is no doubt that projected grain prices are also affecting the enthusiasm for work.
As has already been advised this year, poor grain prices should convince everyone to leave poorer fields and areas in fields fallow for this season.
Low fertility land or ground that is still difficult to plough would be best left idle and improved through the use of organic manures and cover crops during the season. This option will not entail costly inputs and will leave more of the BPS payment intact.
I spoke to many in the seed trade last week and they advised that there was still a reluctance by farmers to commit to seed and fertiliser. The poor weather wasn't helping, but more farmers were also aware of the potential for poor returns.
While beans were the stand-out crop in 2015 for returns, it would appear at this stage that the 2016 bean acreage is unlikely to exceed last year. This should help to maintain the protein payment at around €250 per hectare. If you are still considering sowing beans, remember, that it is a crop that needs a full six months in the ground.
Sowing this week means that it will be well into October before you get to harvest. Any crop sown should be treated pre-emergence with Nirvana or a combination of Nirvana and Lingo.