Weeds are just plants in the wrong place!

Rob and Alastair checking the hay.

Rob and Alastair checking the hay. - Credit: HAMILTON

According to our lecturer at agricultural college a weed was just a plant out of place. That is all well and fine, but he never bothered to explain why, in a difficult season, the weeds will thrive whilst the crops struggle.

This year, because of the cold, dry and later, very wet spring, our spring barley could barely be bothered to crawl out of the ground. Thankfully, the sun finally came out and, like most of us, it suddenly recovered its mojo.

In fact, over the last three weeks, it has shot through the various different growth stages with indecent haste and, much to our surprise, broke in to ear this week.

From bored complacency because he thought that a late harvest beckoned this season, Rob has now been thrown into a panic in case the old adage of, 'six weeks from ear to shear', holds good.

If it does, he is going to be a busy boy for the next few weeks as the grass has finally begun to grow too, which means there will be a lot of haymaking to pack in before harvest starts.

This season’s hay will be particularly precious, as most farmers across the country used up all their supply during the bitterly cold spring weather, trying to keep their livestock fed.

Most now have empty barns, and there is a desperate need to replenish stocks in case of bad weather again next year. Like our spring barley, the grass has been slow to start growing, and the first cut of silage, which would usually be made in May, has simply not happened on many farms.

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We were relieved when the drought that we experienced in the early part of the year finally broke, and some very welcome rain arrived. However, if we are to conserve sufficient grass for next winter, either as hay or silage, then unwelcome as it may be for those who want uninterrupted summer sun, I am afraid that we are going to need some more rain.

Haymaking is always difficult. You need rain to grow the crop, and sun and wind to dry it. The next few weeks will be an anxious time as we will need to save every blade of grass that we can, if we are to have enough food for all the UK livestock next winter.