Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 24 November 2017

It's set to be the latest harvest for many a year

Down but not out: Carlow cereal grower, Ivan Holden, in a field of spring barley partially flattened by the heavy rains of recent weeks. However, Mr Holden is hopeful that losses will be minimal, and is happy with excellent yields so far in his winter barley crops. Photo: Roger Jones
Down but not out: Carlow cereal grower, Ivan Holden, in a field of spring barley partially flattened by the heavy rains of recent weeks. However, Mr Holden is hopeful that losses will be minimal, and is happy with excellent yields so far in his winter barley crops. Photo: Roger Jones
Pat Minnock

Pat Minnock

The bad weather of the last few weeks has led to a very 'stop start' type of harvest. With some winter barley crops still to be harvested it is the latest harvest of winter barley that I can remember. Spring crops are also at least a week to 10 days behind normal.

This could be the latest harvest for many a year. Notwithstanding this there are good yield reports.

As usual there is variability in yields from 3 to 4.5t/ac. Quality has been generally good with bushel weights from 66 to 72 kph. Crops that were desiccated pre-harvest are coming in at least 2pc dryer and leaving straw in a fitter condition for baling.

Straw yields are good with at least 2t/ac however demand is slow. Price indications are for €20 for 8x4x3 bales and €8-10 for 4x4 round bales ex-field.

With straw difficult to sell this is the year to chop and incorporate it. Straw is worth a minimum of €40 per acre as fertiliser and greatly improves potash levels.

High straw volumes however can be difficult to incorporate and decompose. On the ground treatment with either liquid urea or molasses will help its breakdown.

Some of the yield variability can be put down to the presence of grasses and particularly brome in winter barley crops. In addition to sterile brome, meadow, soft and false bromes are now also common.

Some growers have given up on winter barley because of infestation levels.

Also Read


This weed cannot be controlled in winter barley. Low levels can become a major infestation quickly if not managed properly.

Growers should walk all their tillage lands at this time of the year and record those fields, and particularly headlands, containing brome. Once the harvest is complete memory of where brome exists can become hazy. Deep ploughing down of sterile brome seed will eliminate this weed however this is not always feasible immediately after harvest.

If there is brome on headlands these should be given a light grubbing immediately after harvest and treated with Glyphosate when germination is evident. A second light grubbing before again being treated with Glyphosate will greatly reduce infestation. Break crops such as peas, beans, oil seed rape should be considered where infestation is high as chemical treatment is possible in these crops.

Grain prices remain very disappointing with indications of €135 to €144 for green grain off the combine. At these prices many will fail to break even on owned land, particularly with yields below 3.5t.

Cover/catch crops

Large numbers of tillage farmers applied for the first tranche of GLAS. As the harvest moves on thoughts will turn to the sowing of these crops. Cover crops are worthwhile in their own right regardless of GLAS. However the sowing of a cover/catch crops in the absence of notification of acceptance into GLAS will not generate a GLAS payment this autumn.

It is unlikely that anyone will be notified before September 15.

There is no obligation on GLAS applicants to sow a cover crop this autumn except for those farmers who opted for equivalence, for example, malting barley growers with only one crop and who choose to use cover crops for their greening obligations. In these cases all stubble ground must be sown. I understand that there are only about 20 such growers.

If farmers do decide to try cover crops this autumn they should undertake a few experiments to see now easy or difficult it is to establish these crops.

The current GLAS specification refers to prescribed crops and lists full seeding rates. These rates will leave this option uneconomic and will, I believe, drive farmers to use home saved seed of crops such as rape and oats.

Home saved seed is allowed for GLAS.

Finally, it now appears that only commonage farmers and those with Traditional Hay Meadows and Low Input Permanent Pasture will receive a GLAS payment this year.

Pat Minnock is a Carlow based agricultural consultant and a member of the ACA and the ITCA. www.minnockagri.ie

pminnock@ independent.ie

Indo Farming



Top Stories