Do a deal with your neighbour on slurry to try to curb stubbornly high fertiliser costs TILLAGE
Now that the goose has been well and truly cooked, eaten and digested, thoughts turn to planning for 2014.
The back end of 2013 was exceptional, probably the best ever recorded, particularly at sowing time and for crop establishment and growth. Compared with the previous few years it is reasonable to say that all crops are looking extremely good and bode well for the season ahead.
Pigeon grazing damage to winter oil seed rape crops is the exception rather than the rule so far this winter and all crops should come through the winter in good stead with significant yield potential.
Obviously the good weather in the back end has increased pest and disease levels and will lead to greater than normal problems when temperatures rise and growth starts this spring. More careful monitoring will be required in early spring, especially if growth conditions are good.
You should consider your planned cropping programme again. Take into account the likely changes from CAP reform, especially regarding requirements to have a range of crops from 2015.
This crop diversification requires a grower with 10-30ha of crops to have two different crops, while farmers with more than 30ha will be required to have at least three different crops. This should not be particularly onerous since the likes of winter and spring barley will be considered as two crops.
The major concern for farmers will be the price that can be achieved next harvest. Unfortunately at the moment, forward prices do not look overly attractive with the optimists hoping for €160/t for green wheat, and no more than €150/t for barley.
The outlook for cheaper fertiliser does not look like materialising either. Over the last few months there has been some talk of a break up in the 'cartels' selling the likes of potash onto the world market.