April on the Farm

Cuckoo photographed by John Sheppard

Richard Fonge writes:

This has been a late spring, with the wet and cold delaying the planting of Spring crops. They will now be planted a month later than is normal. It has also delayed the application of nitrogen, used to stimulate growth in both corn crops and grassland and therefore production. The cereal crops sown last autumn around the parish now require a fungicide spray. For any crop to fruit it requires the leaf to be kept green so that photosynthesis can take place. A fungicide does just that by keeping the many leaf diseases that attack wheat, barley, oat plants etc at bay. Keeping the leaf free from disease helps to make a bolder grain of corn, of higher quality. Fungicides came on the market in the late 1970s and have greatly increased the yields of all crops, in a safe and positive way, thereby enabling us to feed an ever expanding population. All sprays applied are only done so on the recommendation of an agronomist (plant doctor).

The ewes and lambs have not returned as I write to fields on the footpath to Stuchbury. Instead I noticed a small group of young sheep. I suspect that they are ewe lambs. That is last years lambs who will be bred from next year. The fields from the gated road across to the old railway line are now full of ewes and lambs. They have had a pretty wet time of it but have come through well as their mothers have plenty of milk for them. Lambs are reared on the ewes milk and grass in the main.

Towards the end of April the ground dries up and as the grass grows beef cattle will be returning to the Manor fields and up the gated road. But spring will have truly come when the Swallows arrive. April 10th is the day in a normal year, but we are at least six days behind this year. Sadly the sound of the cuckoo has disappeared from the countryside. Let us hope we hear him again. They usually arrive around the last week of April.

It’s a great time of year to be in the countryside, witnessing all the new life emerging.

Richard Fonge

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One Response to “April on the Farm”

  1. Peter Cherry says:

    Thanks Richard, now I know what a fungicide does, I really should have known!! Somebody said they saw some Swallows down here in Devon the other day, so hopefully they will be with you soon. Cheers, Peter

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