'There is a lake in the middle of my field but I'll cut silage the third week of May'
With wet autumn conditions ever more common in the North West, farmers need to seriously consider taking the first cut of silage in May, a Teagasc official has said.
Tegasc Regional Manager Billy Wilkenson gave the advice to a recent fodder crisis meeting organised by Leitrim IFA’s County Executive in Berrys Tavern in Drumshanbo.
Mr Wilkenson pointed out that taking an early cut would not only improve the chances of getting a second cut in but also be of assistance to farmers seeking to get slurry out. He reminded the crowd that “the weather in 2016 and 2017 was pretty bad. Is that going to happen in the future? We don’t know.”
“I farm on a heavy farm. There is a lake in the middle of my silage field at the moment but I will be cutting silage in the third week of May,” Mr Wilkenson told the gathering. He said he would fertilise immediately after with a view to taking a second cut seven or eight weeks later.
Mr Wilkenson said if the weather being experienced is going to become a pattern changes will have to be made.
“If the weather pattern is going to be like that. If that is what is going to develop, and we particularly have very intense rain now. I am in my 60s now and I remember as a child that you would be trying to make hay in the field and it was always persistent rain, it was never too heavy,” he pointed out.
He said “nowadays that has changed to very intensive heavy showers, heavy rain, it is very wetting and over a short period of time land can be quite unmanageable.” He noted “this year a guy who was taking a first cut in May and a second cut in July, he was feeding it in August September.”
“I would say a lot of dry stock farmers would have to consider looking at taking silage much earlier. Those that are cutting in July will certainly have to close land earlier in Spring time, fertilise, because consistently May and June are the drier months. There is also the issue of getting out slurry, sure that’s a nightmare. It’s an absolute nightmare,” he remarked.