Farmers have been using the latest spell of warm, sunny and dry weather to move ahead with fieldwork.

The warm spell has also given a timely boost to grass growth and has enabled farmers to turn out livestock after one of the longest housed periods for years.

Despite a few showery days this week, the prospects are for warm sunny weather to return this weekend.

Even by early May, a good amount of first cut silage has been made, mostly on farms where they are relying on three or four cuts. The bare stubble has enabled plenty of slurry to be applied.

For crop farmers, the dry weather had improved soil conditions to enable spring sowing of cereals.

As this year's Balmoral Show got under way yesterday (Wednesday), the mood among farmers was certainly more buoyant than several weeks ago.

They toured the showgrounds catching up with the latest developments in tractors and machinery and other farm-related services.

Balmoral Show kickstarts the Show season which is going through difficult times with high costs.

Fermanagh County Show will not be held this year, with just the Schoolchildren's exhibits and on-farm judging of Suckler Cows, Breeders Heifers and the top sheep flock being held, with the winners to be announced at an autumn prizegiving event.

The Omagh and Clogher Valley Shows go ahead as planned in July; more details to be announced in the next few weeks.

The month of May spells the beginning of a new year in grass and crop production and the weather often dictates the shape of the remainder of the summer.

All those engaged in farming will be hoping for a long warm and dry summer, to help reduce costs and to ensure plenty of fodder supplies for the next winter.