Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

BETTER farms open their gates to discuss their best techniques

The BETTER farms are gearing up for a series of open days this week. All the BETTER farm families are eager to welcome visitors and discuss the management techniques that they have employed over the past three years.

The open days are taking place this week and next week:

• June 19 -- John and Denis Crowley, Mallow, Co Cork

• June 21 -- George and Ken Williamson, Duncormick, Co Wexford

• June 26 -- Joe and Colm O'Donoghue, Stamullen, Co Meath

The events run from 2pm to 6pm. Full details with directions to the farms can be found at

Crowleys in Cork

Like all other tillage growers in the country the Crowleys would like to see some fine and dry weather.

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The good weather is needed not only to fulfil the grain potential but also to ease the intense disease pressure in crops.

"I think we have reasonably good disease control so far this year but the pressure is much higher than last year," said John Crowley.

"We increased our spend at the flag leaf timings in wheat from straight Opus to Cauldron which hopefully was the correct decision."

The Crowleys dodged the weather in the middle of last week and applied the final fungicide to the wheats with a mix of Prosaro and Proline.

"I could not find aphids in the crop before spraying so we left the aphicide out, as I am not a fan of applying an aphicide unless it's absolutely necessary. I have the insecticide in store and will use it later in the season, but only if necessary" said John.

Both winter barleys and spring barleys are disease free so far and the final fungicide will be applied to the barleys as soon as possible. John thinks he is most likely to use Barley Pack.

Williamsons in Wexford

The Williamsons are anxious to get back into the fields as winter wheat and spring barley are due their final fungicide applications.

"Torrential rain over the past ten days has left ground conditions very poor in our fields," said George.

"We have good potential in crops, as they are thick and have low disease but we would like to get the final fungicide cover on our crops."

The Williamsons will wait to see the disease present and the weather conditions ahead before deciding between Gleam or Prosaro for the final wheat fungicide.

"The Department of Agriculture spring barley variety trials have plots that have not been sprayed with fungicides this year and it's interesting to see the disease pressure build," said George.

"It will help me decide on varieties for next year."

Even though the southeast has received very heavy rain and winds, all the Williamsons crops are standing ... so far.

O'Donoghues in Meath

We were surprised to find very little disease when walking through the O'Donoghue's wheat last week.

The weather this year has been quite conducive to disease and the septoria timer backed this up by tripping seven times so far in June.

But Joe O'Donoghue was quick to point out his crops were well covered with fungicide.

We then proceeded to an Oakpark fungicide trial in the same field to compare different treatments to plots which received no fungicide, and differences were apparent.

It was clear that the early fungicide applications were giving some control, but the differences were not as dramatic as in a similar trial on the Wexford and Cork BETTER farms. The crop was at the booting stage and these differences will be more visual in a couple of weeks. The trial also showed evidence of scorch after one product was applied during the very warm weather.

Joe was happy with the overall potential of the winter crops in particular. He pointed out that he purposely applied nitrogen earlier this year as he felt that last year his timing was correct for the crop but dry weather after application hindered uptake.

Apart from some rabbit damage, spring crops were growing well with little disease.

Michael Hennessy is a Teagasc tillage specialist

Indo Farming