With heavy rain over the past week, sowing opportunities now look to be pushing into April.

From 14 to 20 March most areas of the country received approximately 25mm of rain or more, with the exception of met stations in Co Dublin. In that time Cork Airport received 42.7mm.

Looking at monthly rainfall figures Dunsany in Meath received 86.8mm in March (up to 20 March).

Oak Park received 59.9mm. Gurteen received 62.2mm, Malin Head was at 75mm and Cork Airport was at 122.6mm.

The outlook for the next week is for scattered showers. Monday looks like a largely dry and calm day, but more rain is due on Tuesday and Wednesday. Frost is due over the weekend, but next week should be milder according to Met Éireann.

Spring crops

Some spring crops that were planted ahead of the rain are now emerging. Ground will be hard to travel on to apply nitrogen and is possibly best left, especially when wet conditions prevail and there is a risk of N loss to water.

Fertiliser is too expensive to apply in the wrong conditions. Those who planted spring beans before the weather broke should be keeping an eye on growth and ensuring they get a pre-emergence herbicide out on crops in time.

Winter cereals

Some are successfully getting out into winter cereal crops, but conditions are difficult. Overall crops are holding their colour well, and while poor patches are plenty there are many good crops out there.

Temperatures are now up and appropriate for plant growth regulator and a tidy up on weeds could also be considered. However, frost and temperatures of -3°C are forecast over the weekend.

Winter hardy broad leaved weeds need careful consideration to control and higher rates than those used on spring crops.

Oilseed rape

Winter oilseed rape crops are beginning to flower across the country. Some growers have been out with the spreaders in crops this week and should keep an eye on Green leaf area index (GAI) figures to save on nitrogen.

Growers who had a GAI of 2.0 will have delayed nitrogen application.

Those growers can go with a total nitrogen application of 130kg/ha, while those with a GAI of 1 should already have applied nitrogen and total levels should come to 225kg/ha according to Teagasc figures.

Liming scheme

The National Liming Programme was launched last week, and growers should make use of it. Applying lime and having soils at optimum pH levels is essential for efficient nutrient use and to help to save on artificial fertiliser.

The scheme will pay farmers €16/t of ground limestone spread. If you wish to apply you must do so by 20 April and claims for payment must be submitted by 31 October.

When applying on agfood.ie you need to know the quantity of lime that you will spread, and this needs to be calculated from an in-date soil test. Lime must be purchased from a Department approved supplier.

The minimum amount of lime that can be spread is 10t and there is a maximum of 200t.