Still no letup: The past week certainly brought little weather reprieve for any farmer.
Land remains wet at a minimum and some areas have got a lot more rain in recent days. As things stand, it is difficult to think that there will be anything much more done in February, but the weather may be picking up and some land can dry out quickly at this time of year.
While it might be later than we might like, there is still plenty of time to get beans and spring wheat planted – recent years have taught us that.
It is difficult to state that a planting date is late where there was no previous planting opportunity. We can only work with nature. The major negative with later planting is that crops tend to be less robust should drought or other adverse conditions hit.
Growth has certainly been evident over the past week or so as temperatures increased to spring-like conditions, with some nice bright days.
As we drift into March, nitrogen is becoming increasingly important for some crops that are weaker or backward and especially for winter rape and barley.
Fertiliser: With temperatures generally rising and a feel of spring in the air, N, P, K and sulphur come into sharper focus.
Once you can see real growth it is time to get your crops fed because a lack of nutrient now can still limit growth and yield potential. But you can’t do it until you can travel safely. The most important thing may be to have your fertiliser on hand for when an opportunity occurs.
It is always sensible to work out your maximum fertiliser requirement at the start of the year and you can trim back from there based on cost or crop prospects.
Remember, you need a valid soil test no more than four years old to use more than Index 3 rates of P. You also need a soil test for every 4-5ha so take these samples wisely. If at all possible, get the P and K applied with the first nitrogen application so that it will be washed in prior to very active growth.
You might consider the same for sulphur, but this can also be applied later in the season if you are using an N + S fertiliser.
Cereals need around 15kg S/ha and oilseed rape needs 30kg.
As per previous weeks, get 30-40kg N/ha out on backward crops shortly, but the more that is delayed the stronger the reason to apply the full early amount when you get out on the crop. First application quantities might be 40-50kg N/ha for wheat and oats and 60kg N/ha or more on winter barley.
Now is the time (end of February) to take your photos of winter oilseed rape canopies to guide the amount of N needed for canopy formation, which could vary from 50 to 160kg N/ha.
Beans: With up to €240/t on offer for as a minimum harvest price for green beans and either side of €250/ha as aid, bean margins can stack up well this year in good crops.