Naturally enough, farmers on free draining land in the midlands, south and east are very concerned about the current dry spell causing a significant reduction in grass growth.

Silage stocks on most dairy farms are lower than normal, and most farmers want to be making silage and not feeding it. Farmers are just going to have to accept that longer wet spells and longer dry spells are becoming more of a feature of our weather patterns.

As a result, if extra meal and silage need to be fed to milking cows during the summer, then so be it. Discussion around appropriate stocking rates is for another day.

For now, approach the problem with a clear head – most farms are still growing plenty of grass for what the herd needs, so there is no need to put in supplement just yet.

Where growth rate has fallen sharply and where pre-grazing yield is too low to support a 20 to 25 day rotation length, additional feed should be introduced to maintain rotation length.

If it gets very dry, grass will wither away so putting in a lot of feed now to keep a high average farm cover doesn’t make a lot of sense.


Recently sown reseeds are under a bit of pressure, but earlier sown reseeds should be grazed as soon as possible. If the grass leaves can be pulled off the stem without bringing the roots with it you know it’s suitable for grazing.

Early grazing at a very light cover will encourage tillering, and keep light down to the base which is good for clover.

I would be slow to go with a post emergence spray in the current dry spell as grass and clover are under a bit of stress in dry conditions. Wait until rain comes and grass and clover are growing vigorously before spraying.

Weather apps

Are smartphone weather apps a help or a hindrance in dry weather? In my view they are accurate in the short term (two to three days ahead) and very unreliable thereafter.

More often than not, they show heavy rain for six to eight days’ time only for that rain to disappear from the app as it gets closer. Constantly watching weather apps for sign of rain won’t help your mood and only add to frustration.

There is some rain forecast for the weekend and beyond – quantities forecast are relatively low, but anything will be a help as grass is still green and growing in most places.


Most farmers that I speak to are reporting that milk collections are back compared to previous years. Between that and a significant milk price drop, plus the prospect of higher feed bills over the next few weeks if the weather stays dry, it’s looking like now is a good time to update the cashflow forecast.

There are more knowns than unknowns at this point, with good visibility on milk price for the rest of the year. Big ticket items such as meal and fertiliser bills should be known too.

Tax bills are going to be an issue for a lot of farmers after a good year last year. Try and arrange a meeting with the accountant as soon as possible to know what’s coming. A cashflow forecast doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective.