Most crops have yielded well
This year's spring barley, winter wheat and oat harvest is complete in most areas, except for small pockets in the midlands and northeast. In general, the harvest could be described as reasonable to very good.
Crops that looked thin and with poor yield potential coming up to harvest appear to have yielded extremely well. This phenomenon was also seen in other dry years, particularly 1995 and 1984. In those years, the spring and summer were particularly dry and the expectation was for a poor harvest. However, yields outperformed all expectations, especially in 1984.
One of the reasons for the good yields is that in a dry year, plants are encouraged from an early stage of development to put their roots down deep to access moisture and nutrients. March and April this year were particularly dry, with very good sowing conditions.
Crops would have put down deep roots and, while July might have appeared to have been wet, little rain fell. Well-established root systems obviously did the trick, with some crops of winter wheat yielding more than 5t/ac and spring barley 3t/ac. With malting barley making €208/t, this year is turning out to be a much better one than the previous few. However, there were also other factors at play and there is no doubt that a good break crop/rotation provided the best yields.
Nonetheless, there was an enormous variation in yields, even on the same farm with the same management practices. Some of this can be put down to poor soil structure and compaction.
If you investigate your soils, you will note the presence of compaction layers, particularly in fields that have not performed well.
The use of a deep sub-soiler this autumn will pay dividends in these fields. Soil conditions are particularly dry this autumn so a good deep sub-soiling will smash these pans. You should identify the depth of these pan layers and ensure your sub-soiler goes below this depth. This depth could be up to 18 inches or more.
The main potato harvest is now in full swing and growers are reporting good yields. Even at this early stage, there are reports of 16-18t/ac in Rooster crops.