A variable week: Weather dominated what you could do on land over the past week as ground conditions continue to be variable because of either recent rain or heavier ground. Some growers are finished planting, others have some land that has remained too damp to work, while others got rained off yet again.

Rainfall over the week varied from 2.6mm in south Wexford to 53.4mm in east Galway and the month to date varies from either side of 30mm across much of the east coast to 80mm in Mullingar, with even higher amounts further west.

But the incidence of heavy showers meant that local areas got hit worse and that is obvious from the Sencrop station results on Irish Farmers Journal Live Weather.

Soil temperatures are generally between 10°C-11°C, considerably higher than the 30-year average for March. Some are above 12°C. Growth is evident in winter crops as forward barley and oat crops push beyond first node. Temperatures look set to fluctuate for another week but longer days and higher temperatures mean growth will become more visible.

Planting: Overall planting progress has been variable but a lot of the spring-sown acres are in the ground as we move into April. It is largely spring barley to be planted, along with peas, spring rape, potatoes and maize.

Seedbeds become increasingly important as we get later in the season as they could either dry out excessively or be made too fine and prone to capping. Drill any remaining spring barley at around 155-170 kg/ha (10-11 st/ac) to establish 300 plants/m2 at 90% establishment using seed with 45 and 50g TGW. Spring rape can be planted now too at around 5 kg/ha.

It is best to combine-drill fertiliser where you can, with seedbed incorporation the next best option.

Fertiliser needs to be cultivated into the soil to ensure availability if conditions become dry. An Index 2 soil should get 37kgP and 95kg K/ha maximum for a 7t/ha spring barley crop with straw removed. This can be supplied by 375kg/ha of 10:10:20 to give adequate P, but K would need to be topped up separately to help build fertility. Do not forget to add sulphur on light worn ground, at least 15kg S/ha.

Winter crops: All crops should have received basic fertiliser by now. Forward rape crops need to have their remaining nitrogen applied once flowers are evident. Forward winter crops are in stem extension and need their main split of N by GS31. Some are still a week away from this. Sulphur is also important – around 15-20kg S/ha.

Some crops still need herbicide to tidy up surviving weeds but this is crop-specific. Many winter barley and oat crops are at or past first node – time for growth regulator.

Consider Moddus plus CCC (0.15-0.2 + 1.0 l/ha, respectively). Strengthening the base at the start of stem extension is important for all cereals. Medax Max would be softer if conditions remain harsh around application. Alternatives on oats would be Medax Max + CCC or Ceraide at 1.4 l/ha once or, preferably, 1.15 l/ha twice to get strengthening and shortening, starting at GS31/32.