Soil temperatures have hardly risen this year

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Spring never seemed to get going this year at all.

Apart from a couple of weeks’ half decent weather prior to Easter, the months of March, April and May were cold, wet and miserable. Soil temperatures have hardly risen at all this year: so let’s hope the sun comes out to play pretty quickly.

The last thing farmers need now is a serious weather-related issue to contend with. I was chatting to a friend in Fermanagh over the weekend, who told me that ground conditions have started to deteriorate quite badly in that part of the world. He was consoled by the fact that he had a fair bit of silage left in the pit from last year. But as we all know, it doesn’t take long for silage stocks to run out, once bad weather really starts to have an impact.

No other industry is as dependent on the weather as is agriculture, particularly at this time of the year. Low temperatures, allied to heavy rain will knock grass and crop growth for six. In addition, young calves and lambs will be predisposed to chills and a host of other health-related problems. It all adds up to additional costs for farmers – at a time when they can least afford it.

Milk prices are exceptionally challenging at the present time, while the beef and lamb markets remain extremely volatile. And this pattern looks set to be maintained over the coming months.

The other very positive aspect to a spell of decent weather is the fact that it helps to significantly reduce the workload incurred on local farms. Having the opportunity to allow cattle graze contentedly in fields at this time of the year, rather than having them in sheds, is a much more enjoyable experience for stock and farmers alike.

The weather men are predicting an upturn in the weather towards the end of this week: let’s hope they are right.