Richard Hackett: 'How do cheap maize imports tally with our 'grass-based' farming image?'
I began last month's article by commenting how spring has taken off in a big way. Things have dramatically slowed down since with Mother Nature intervening, as she so often does, to balance out the season.
It's the first time since the 2018/19 crops have been sown that they in any way look haggard and rough.
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They had been sown, established, over-wintered and developed in near ideal temperature and moisture conditions.
Suddenly, the turn for the worse in the weather - coupled in some cases with some overzealous applications of plant growth regulator and fungicides - means there has been a significant shock to the system; but it's not time to panic as yet. A rule of thumb is that a crop doesn't 'have' to look well until the flag leaves have emerged.
Crops are bang on target as to where they should be at this time of year. There is plenty of time for the weather to improve and for new leaves to emerge and re-establish the potential they were showing for the upcoming harvest.
However, it's on that front that the main worry is. Last year produced the smallest national grain harvest in 23 years.
In contrast, the national livestock population is on the increase, especially the population of dairy cows.
Last autumn we had a 'call to arms' to gather fodder for the upcoming winter, with plenty of hyperbole about what tillage farmers should be doing to come to the aid of the stricken dairy farmer in particular.