In this month’s column BEN BOOTHMAN, from Arable Advisor, in Pickering, looks at what the dry weather has meant for crops

Well what a shift in seasons, eight weeks ago when on farms we joked about the horrendous conditions the land was in with the comments of “you wait it will be bone dry in spring and well be crying out for rain.” How mother nature has a way of always returning equilibrium.

In North Yorkshire we haven’t had any substantial rain for about four weeks now and this is starting to show in some of these backward stressed crops, especially late sown winter barleys.

More settled weather has allowed the army of tractors and drills to have an excellent run at sowing spring crops and by now the last few stragglers will be going in.

Next on the list is fodder beet, a couple of my clients skipped

the family egg hunts and started sowing on Easter weekend, and from the first fields I have been into have gone in behind a cloud of dust.

The final crop in my portfolio to go in the ground will be maize. This, however, can be left for next month’s article, I like to give you something to look forward to.

Winter wheats were quick off the mark at the beginning of the month. However, due to the lack of rain combined with the reluctance to soak up nitrogen they are sticking around growth stage 30-31 with leaf 3 either still cosily wrapped up or just poking its head to enjoy the sunshine.

Any crops receiving Broadway or Pacifica-type products I will be using that as a first growth regulator, whether there is any rain in the future will determine what will be used next, possibly a slightly higher chlormequat dose on livestock farms than strictly arable units.

So far disease control is mainly tailored to yellow rust, therefore low epoxiconazole doses have been included in the grass weed clear up to try and burn out any infections.

Septoria is sitting quietly bubbling at the base of certain varieties, however, without the aided movement of rain will remain of lesser concern.

In the north well established and tillered winter barleys are like the number of tries I have scored this season from 80 metres out…..rare to find.

Those that have been sown early and tillered well have great potential, will receive a full treatment and I expect will be receiving their final nitrogen doses as you read. Any late barleys sown through sheer desperation how can I say, will be what they will be.

Winter oilseed rapes are also a mixed bag, some are well into flower while some are waiting to hit second gear. It’s this time of year when we start to see the devastating effect cabbage stem flea beetle larvae can have, effected plants resemble many of my team mates on a Sunday morning in the hotel after an away game….slow.

Again, I’d like to wish the best to the many farmers carrying on with everyday life through this horrid unpredicted time and continuing to keep the nation with full tummies.ease stay safe and keep up the good work, the UK needs you.