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Summer Weather Forecast

23 May 2017

Weather forecasters are tentatively predicting this summer will start off drier and end up wetter than normal.  Long range weather forecasts are notoriously difficult.  Nevertheless it is worthwhile spending a couple of minutes thinking of what it would mean to your business, if it turns out to be accurate.

A Dry Spring

  • Grass growth will be restricted due to a lack of water. (This is unlikely to be severe with the high current water table.)
  • Weather for first cut should be good allowing crops to be cut young and rapidly wilted to maximise silage feed value next winter.
  • In dry conditions do not graze/cut grass too short. The shorter the stubble the more rapidly exposed soil will dry out.
  • Try and preserve as much soil moisture as possible for planting forage crops such as kale, turnips, etc. Drilling direct into a sprayed off turf should be beneficial.

A Wet Autumn

  • Will cattle have to be housed earlier? This would have a big impact on the cost of straw bedding.
  • Perverse as it might seem, cell grazing over the winter would do considerable less poaching/soil erosion damage compared with allowing sheep to graze the whole farm and supplementing them with big bale silage.
  • Housing cattle earlier means calves will be younger. Coupled with the high relative humidity due to the wet weather there will be a greater risk of pneumonia making vaccination pre housing more cost effective.
  • Consider reducing winter stocking rates ie sell weaned calves in the autumn rather than next spring?
  • Harvest will be more difficult, consider making wholecrop, urea treated grain, crimping, etc.
  • Consider baling rape straw for bedding.
  • Consider finishing lambs ASAP.

Basil Lowman,

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