The drought is continuing to bite across the midlands, south and east, despite heavy rainfall in many areas over the last few days, writes Declan O’Brien.
Cereal crops remain under severe pressure along the east coast and into the midlands, although growers report a marked improvement in areas that got sizeable falls of rain.
Dairy farmers and vegetable growers are also in need of heavy rain over the coming week, with grass growth plummeting in drought-affected districts, and irrigation required for vegetable crops.
Tipperary-based tillage consultant PJ Phelan warned that cereal crops were still under severe stress and badly needed rain.
He said some winter barley crops on lighter land were “burning in”, while spring barley was starting to head out.
Mr Phelan said growers were now praying for a repeat of 1984, when crops were in a similar position at this time of the year but had excellent grain fill and yielded a lot stronger than expected.
On the positive side, Mr Phelan noted that fields were remarkably disease-free, and that oilseed rape crops were “outstanding”.
Bobby Miller of Irish Grain Growers (IGG) predicted that spring barley yields will be range from 2t/ac to 2.5t/ac.
He said the big imponderable for growers was the impact of the rain on crops at this stage.
“All is not lost; there is a mixed bag of crops out there. It all depends now on grain fill, but we certainly won’t have bumper yields,” Mr Miller said.
Our photo shows Damien Power, a dairy farmer from Ballybar, Co Carlow, who has been feeding his cows a little extra because grass is in short supply.
Photo: Roger Jones