There has been zero spring work done in Derry so far. There was a constant drizzle for 36 hours last week in addition to 24mm of rain in 24 hours.

Alistair hoped to be able to make a start this week, but pressure is also coming on to spread slurry and silage will be starting soon on his farm too due to their multi-cut system.

The only fieldwork Alistair had done before last weekend was spreading fertiliser on the winter crops to bring the winter barley and wheat up to 100kg N/ha and the winter oilseed rape up to 125kg N/ha. However, this work has left the tramlines in bad shape.

At the weekend, he applied the first spray to winter barley and winter wheat, containing chlormequat, a fungicide and trace elements.

There had been no opportunities before the weekend to apply fungicides and growth regulators because of the ground conditions and also the fact that nighttime temperatures were hovering around 3°C.

The highlight of the farm’s crops is the oilseed rape. Alistair believes the companion crops really helped the crop, and the clover understory is now growing well too.

Half of the winter barley looks very good, while the other half is OK.

Sixty per cent of the wheat looks good, with 30% average and 10% hasn’t made it through the winter. Including this area to be replanted, Alistair has 60ac of spring crops to plant. He was planning on spring beans, but may change his mind and plant spring barley because he thinks there will be very little straw in the country next winter.

He is also considering planting open maize for the first time, especially if he does not get all his spring crops planted by mid-May.

Alistair's winter oilseed rape in full flower.

Alistair hopes that higher temperatures will allow it to catch up with covered maize. He would use this maize for his own dairy cows.

He thinks it’s worth a shot this year, and may sow a companion crop such as beans with the maize.

In a break from the norm, Galway has seen some good opportunities to get spring crops planted over the past month. Some 40ac of barley were drilled in the first week of April. This has already emerged and has been top-dressed to bring it to a total of 125kg N/ha. Conall hopes to be finished planting in the next week, if the weather allows.

He is currently planting spring barley and both conventional and organic oats. The Geraldine spring barley is being planted at 200kg/ha with 370kg/ha of 10-7-25+S in the seedbed, while the Husky and WPB Isabel oats are at 189kg/ha. Conall says conditions are OK but they’re not as nice as you would like.

Some headlands have been left unplanted as they are too wet. He says it would take a month for these headlands to dry out, so it is a better option to work around them.

The spring beans planted on 11 March have emerged well and have a good plant stand.

Conall still has some beans to plant on hire, and says they are still a good option this late in the season with the security of the Protein Aid Scheme.

The winter barley looks fantastic and has stayed very clean, but this has come at a cost, with the tramlines a foot deep in places.

The barley received its second fungicide at the weekend, consisting of Elatus Era (0.8l/ha), Folpet (1.5l/ha), Mancozin (0.5l/ha), and Terpal (1.5l/ha).

Terpal is the third growth regulator for some of the very strong fields following beans.

The flag leaf is just beginning to peep on the KWS Joyau barley.

The winter oats also look excellent. The second fungicide of Elatus Era at 0.8l/ha and Mancozin at 0.5l/ha was applied in the past couple of days. It also received CeCeCe 750 (1l/ha) and Medax Max (0.35l/ha) a couple of weeks ago.

Soil conditions improved dramatically over last weekend in Cork, allowing Ray to get to work in the fields. He managed to get his Laureate spring malting barley and Florence spring barley for seed for Seedtech planted over the weekend.

He was planting WPB Isabel seed spring oats for Goldcrop on Monday and was making good progress.

All ground is ploughed and disced before sowing with a one-pass drill.

Ray decided not to plant any spring beans this year due to how late in the spring it now is, which could delay harvesting until October.

Ray also planted some feed spring barley about two weeks ago.

All of the winter crops have received one fungicide so far, with a second to be applied in the coming weeks

However, there was consistently heavy rain the following day, which capped the top of the ground and has now started to crack as it dries out. This has affected germination, which Ray thinks is currently at 50%.

With rain in the forecast, Ray knew that there was some risk to planting at the time, but he expected to only have some small problem areas in wet spots.

He’s unsure whether to replant all of this, or to replant some small patches and bring the rest to harvest.

The winter crops have received their final splits of nitrogen.

The barley is up to 200kg N/ha, the wheat was brought up to 225kg N/ha, and the rye was finished at 180kg N/ha.

The rye has already received two growth regulators as Ray wants to keep it standing.

Despite it being his first year growing rye, Ray says that it is the pick of the winter crops currently.

The winter wheat still has a few weeds in it to be cleaned up and a small bit of yellow rust, but it has transformed in the past 10 days into a nice-looking crop.

All of the winter crops have received one fungicide so far, with a second to be applied in the coming weeks.