We hope you have all avoided the virus so far, and that isolation isn't causing too much disruption.
Grass and Grass silage
We sent an email out last month reminding you not to over-do fertiliser applications as they are so late going on this year. We are still getting some enquiries about putting fertiliser on now and just to recap – if the cover of grass is such that fertiliser will all lodge on the grass and not reach the soil it will better not to apply any and get the first cut off early and then fertiliser heavier than normal for a good second cut after 6 weeks. If grass covers are not to high then stick to the rule of 2 units per day (2.5kg/d/ha) from application to expected cutting date..
We have just started taking some grass samples to monitor quality prior to silage cutting, early samples are not showing the high proteins that we normally expect – but those crops had not had any nitrogen prior to sampling. They may look quite different now nitrogen has been applied, we will let you know next week. At the moment the labs we use for grass and silage testing are still working so if you are intending cutting early and would like to test the grass before cutting please let us know as soon as possible and we will get sample bags sent to you.
After 10 days now with no rain a lot of ground is working down well but some heavy soils are ploughing up like bricks after being packed down so tight with the winter rain so make sure you get on top of ploughed ground quickly before it bakes out in the wind and sun. Seed bed is critical for a maize crop. The MGA are monitoring soil temperatures now and showed a drop in soil temperature last week, down to about 6oC, as a reminder we need 8OC for 4-5 days at 10 am before even considering planting.
You need a good seed bed not just on the surface but down to at least 10 cm as without bird repellent on the seed you need to ensure it is planted deep enough to deter rooks, 7cm is normal but get down to 10cm if you can. Get the fields level so there is an even planting depth and then don’t advertise the fact there is a field full of Rook food – clear away any surface spillage of seed.
There is just time to get soil analyses done if you are not sure of field indices, again let us know if you want sample bags.
Plenty of time to get that established in the next 10 days if you are concerned that maize stocks may run out before harvest and you need something to fill the gap. Straight spring barley is the cheapest crop, adding peas may boost yield slightly, but at a cost, and all too often the peas are eaten by pigeons before they germinate.
If you are concerned about forage stocks please talk to us soon so we can avoid big diet changes later.