Sunday, 22 April 2018

Amazing Mother Nature

There has always been a saying-'You can't fight Mother Nature', and it is so true.  From the heavy snow we had at the beginning of March; through to the very wet Easter weekend, the weather never ceases to amaze me. March saw a record rainfall and snow melt of 95mm (almost 4") and then followed the very wet Easter weekend where we saw another 48mm of rain arrive to sit firmly on the top of our already cold and damp soil.  Soil temperatures at the start of April were only 4.2 degrees and nothing was really growing.  No daffodils, a few hardy snowdrops but the farm crops refused to grow.
Fast forward to the 16th April and after a couple of sunny days, with some brisk winds, the soil dried enough to get planting spring barley, into some pretty good conditions.  All of the fields destined for spring cropping had a cover crop growing on them over the winter.  Some were grazed and others were not.
Planting Spring Barley 16th April 2018
This was the first field that we planted. The cover crop was a mixture of vetch and oats which the sheep grazed before Christmas.  The top was nice and dry but conditions under the surface were a little damp, but we had to get going.  Derek made a start and before long the fields were planted (2 days) and we moved on to plant other crops.  I had a look on Friday morning to see if the seeds had germinated (started to grow) and to my astonishment-not only had they germinated  but there were small shoots appearing.  I measured the soil temperature at 14 degrees, and with plenty of moisture the seeds were off to a flying start.
Barley Seeds Germinating After 4 days
I called into the field today to see how things were progressing only to be met with small green shoots bursting up from the clutches of the soil.  Incredibly after 6 days, almost to the hour ,we had some crop emergence.  I have never known such a short period from planting to emergence as I have witnessed this year with the barley.
Barley Plants Emerging
To me this really is amazing because only a few weeks before we were sitting looking at wet, cold fields with little prospect of planting anything this spring.  The crop has a long way to go before it will hopefully be harvested.  It will be attacked by pests and disease, which we will have to regularly check for. It might be hot or cold, dry or wet from now on, but for now, the little plants are on their way!