Oat growers have harsh lessons to learn
Growing oats successfully this year was easier said than done, especially with the very hard frosts last winter. Here's what happened on my clients' farms near Athy, in Co Kildare, and the lessons that can be learned.
Peter Carbery planted two fields last October. One 14ac field was sprayed with Bacara on October 30, with 2ac left unsprayed due to the tank size. The second 16ac field was not sprayed with Bacara until November 30.
The crop that was sprayed early with Bacara was a complete wipe out, so the decision to replant was easy. The remaining section of the field and the second plot, which was sprayed later, were reasonable.
Plant counts varied from 50-200 plants/m2 in the spring. Good plant stands (150 plus) occurred where the ground was well consolidated along wheelings. I estimated the average to be 100 and Peter decided to retain this crop. As he wished to maintain his oat acreage, it was decided to re-sow the first field with spring oats, also Barra. I argued that if we achieved 2.5t/ac from the winter oats, this would be equivalent to obtaining nearly three tonnes of spring oats due to the costs that had already been incurred.
The winter crop was managed carefully with ceraide, liquid phosphate and nitrogen dressings.
The input costs for the crops are outlined in table 1 (below). The additional input costs attributed to replanting the spring crop were made up of €21 for the original seed, €9 for Bacara plus an aphicide, and an estimated €15/ac for work done to establish the spring crop. This consisted of grubbing and rolling.
The winter crop yielded slightly more than 3t/ac at 55kph and a price of €170/t, while the spring crop yielded 2.5t/ac at 53kph.
While Peter will continue to grow winter oats as a break crop for his wheat, he won't be growing spring oats again any time soon. Raymond Pelin sowed 34ac of winter oats in one plot last year.