Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

Bygones: Weather forecasters feel the heat from angry haymakers

Market day at Ballybricken Green, Waterford in May 1910
Market day at Ballybricken Green, Waterford in May 1910

Farming Independent from July 15, 1986

“The weather is easily the most important subject among farmers in this country at present...”.  Thus began a comment piece in the Farming Independent this time 30 years ago when the hay harvest was under threat from the vagaries of the Irish summer.

Nothing new in that you might say, but what really raised farmers’ hackles was the inaccuracy of the forecasts emerging from Met Eireann HQ.

“Thanks to the ‘advice’ which farmers received from our weather forecasters last Wednesday morning that there was going to be at least three or four fine days in the offing, thousands of acres of hay was mowed. Since then we have had nothing but rain and the prospects of getting any long spells of hay-making weather is still very doubtful.

“Forecasting the weather accurately appears to be becoming more and more difficult, but no matter what excuses are offered by the Met men, there is little doubt that there is very considerable room for an improvement in this particular service.  As things stand at present, farmers would be almost better advised to depend on their own opinions. They certainly can’t depend on the forecasts they are getting at present.”

The upshot was that some bloodstock breeders had already started ordering hay at £3 a bale from balmy southern France where farmers were on their second cut.

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