Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Barley yield and quality practically identical to 2011

I don't remember a summer where we didn't cut the winter barley in July. This year the only cutting we were doing during July was for Combines4Charity.

That was a great event and well done to all involved. It was good to get the combine out and make sure everything is running correctly.

When we did get to cut the winter barley, the moisture was higher than we would have liked, but at 18pc we can't really complain with the year that is in it.

We put a load over the weigh bridge and it worked out at an average of 3.5t/ac when it was dried. That was a mixture of two row and six row varieties.

If I convert that back to 20pc moisture it works out at 3.8t/ac. The six row bushel was 55kph green and the two row was 66kph green.

When I look at last year's quality and yield it's almost identical, even though we thought it would be worse this year because of the disease pressure.

We didn't forward sell any barley so we dried it all down to below 15pc moisture and put it in the shed, with pedestals to keep it cool.

Philip did have a couple of wet patches to combine through in the barley and managed alright. However, these are relatively good fields -- our two wet fields are in winter wheat.

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These are a worry, considering the weather forecast is so unsettled. The barley straw has been very hard to save with the changeable weather too.

With the same trouble for all those trying to save silage and hay it could make fodder very expensive this year, as it's so scarce.

We have had a lot of breakdowns in the last fortnight. They were mostly little things like a puncture, hydraulic hoses and electrical wiring.

These are just general wear and tear but it takes time to fix all these small things.

When we get such a small window of good weather, it puts us under even more pressure.

One day we had four machines in the workshop at the same time.

We also changed tyres on machines to help prevent compaction when drawing the wheat. The large lugs on these tyres are very good but their disadvantage is that they bring out a lot of muck onto the road when coming out of the field.

In a good year all you create is dust but this year we will be slopping through puddles to get out.

The wheat was sprayed off once it got below 30pc moisture and we're on the countdown until cutting starts on that. We don't have any oats or oilseed rape this year.

We are thinking of putting some oilseed rape in for next year but the downside of that would be that we would give ourselves even more work to complete in August.

We will try and import some slurry from a neighbour this year, as we have no farmyard manure and oilseed rape would really benefit from this extra boost of nutrients.

If we can, we will try to get the slurry out this week and ploughed under at the same time. Then we'll press it and have it ready to sow. After the wheat is cut, we can go straight in and sow it before the end of August.


The next issue we will have is controlling the slugs.

We are not going to put the slug pellets in with the seed because the pellets are meant to attract the slugs and they may get to the seed before they reach the pellet.

We will sow the seed then roll well and then spread the pellets on top.

I have also topped up all the first aid and safety equipment; especially dust masks, eye wash and disposable overalls.

The barley dust at the dryer is unbelievably itchy and terrible on the eyes. I have also finished all my paperwork for our grain assurance inspection that we get every year.

It is very straightforward but if I don't do it soon after the spraying is finished I can forget very quickly what we did in each field.

Helen & Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co. Kildare. Email:

Indo Farming