Grass growth rates have rebounded across the south, east and midlands after a very sluggish summer of growth.
Soil moisture deficits are now non-existent, having been at up to 80mm of a deficit for much of August.
Soil temperatures are running at about 3°C higher than normal and nitrogen doesn’t seem to be limiting.
This is leading to some very high grass growth rates on many farms, with some reporting daily growth rates in excess of 70kg per day.
Such high growth rates are not normally expected at this time of year, but there is nearly always a bounce in autumn growth after a prolonged dry spell in summer.
For how long this bounce will last for is hard to know. Two things will end it fairly quickly; too much rain or a big drop in temperatures. Neither is very likely for the coming week.
However, in the west and north-west, heavy rain is making life a bit more difficult for those on heavy land.
Most farms are still behind target for the time of year, so should continue to build up covers
While not stopping play just yet, some fields are quite wet and should be avoided until later this week or next week, as the dry few days ahead will help to dry them a bit.
With the bounce in grass growth, some farmers are wondering if they should continue to feed heavily.
For me, the answer lies with how much grass is on the farm relative to the target. Most farms are still behind target for the time of year, so should continue to build up covers.
The bigger the differential between how much grass is growing and how much grass is being grazed will determine how quickly the amount of grass on the farm rises or falls.
Farmers should do a grass budget now to determine how much supplement they need to feed in order to have enough grass on the farm at closing.
There is absolutely no point in feeding a lot of meal and silage now, only to be making surplus silage in a few weeks’ time.
That might seem far-fetched now, but believe it or not, if farmers don’t do a budget, many could end up in this position, such is the grass growth rates currently.