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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Attention turns to paperwork now ploughing and seeding are finished

Tillage

Helen Harris

Published 01/11/2011 | 05:00

The ploughing is done, the seed is in the ground. The plough is all greased up to stop the boards rusting and can have a rest until next year. We just need to mind the crop for the year and hope that we will get a good yield at the end of it.

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As well as seagulls and pheasants, we had lapwing and red kite to keep us company this year. I believe red kites have only recently been re-introduced back into Ireland, so they were a novelty.

Philip and myself had stiff necks and sore backs by the time we had finished the sowing.

I have to admit that after all those long days I was a touch crabby and sick of sandwiches and tea from a flask.

October had a bit of everything weather wise. It started off balmy and warm, and then we got a cold snap, followed by rain that was of biblical proportions.

When you are changing points on a plough on a frosty morning and you are handling cold steel it can chill you to the bone, but we were lucky enough to have finished our sowing before the downpour.

We didn't roll the last two fields, as they were not dry enough and we were afraid we would compact them too much. We have slug traps out to keep an eye on the slug activity on all fields but especially the ones we haven't rolled.

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We raised the wheat sowing rate as we went on through the month.

We grow Grafton, JB Diego, Einstein, Invicta and Santiago winter wheat. We started at 8st to the acre and gradually raised it to 13st/ac. The reason we went so heavy at the end is because that particular field has a lot of scutch grass, so we were trying to get the crop to establish before the scutch got going. The bales were taken off late so we had no option of spraying it off.

We grow Cassia, Leibniz and Florentine winter barley. The winter barley was sown at 12st/ac. We used to sow at 10st/ac, but now we have moved to 12st/ac. We found that the plants were not tillering enough to give us a good yield, but by going to 12st/ac we found that it improved our yield.

When the early-sown wheat has got to the two-leaf stage, is it more important to spray it for aphids and weeds, or keep drilling to get the crop in the ground and hope you get a dry spell to spray? We only got 93ac of barley sprayed before the rain stopped us, as we decided to keep drilling rather than stop and spray.

We have used Stomp and IPU to control grass weeds for the last three years, but we now have a problem with a weed called groundsel. To control this, we have decided to spray with DFF and IPU this year, but we will have to check for poppies in the spring as this is not as effective on the poppies.

The next thing to do is to write up all our paperwork while it is fresh in our heads. This is like asking a child to do homework; it's not nice but it has to be done. We are in the Irish Grain Assurance Scheme and they have given us a crop book to keep records up to date.

We have finished loading the barley that we sold on a contract for October, and will start loading the wheat soon. As the green price of barley and wheat was high at harvest, but has since fallen away, you have to ask yourself if it's worth drying it at all.

Helen and Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Email: helenharrisfarm@gmail.com

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