‘We could be at it until October’ - This year’s silage season could extend into late autumn
Second-cut silage is few and far between after the drought. In a normal year, contractors would be up and at it once again at this stage of the summer as second cut thickens up, but at the moment only a handful of farmers around the country are ready for round two.
The few showers we have had will help, but much more rain is needed. It all means we are likely to see some of the latest silage harvesting on record this back end. Indeed, some contractors are predicting balers and silage harvesters will still be in action in some places come October.
I met up with one contractor in the south east on his first outing of second-cut silage last week. Tom Kirwan runs a self-propelled harvesting and baled silage contracting outfit from his base in Carrigeen, Kill, Co Waterford, and serves farmer customers in the surrounding areas.
It is a family-run business and at the peak of the season, the Kirwan outfit employs between seven and eight staff.
“We try to hire staff who come from a farming background because they tend to know a bit more about looking after machinery,” revealed Tom. “We have a few farmers’ sons driving for us who tend to come back for work each
season. By way of example, our man on the harvester, Kieran Dunphy, is a dairy farmer. Finding reliable drivers isn’t easy these days, so I try to look after the lads in terms of proper wages and decent conditions.”
A farmer himself, Tom is acutely aware of the issues his customers are facing in terms of poor grass growth and the slow start to second-cut silage. As we approach the end of July, he has only a handful of farmers who are ready for second-cut silage.
“Normally at this time of year the phone would be ringing off the hook. Fellas would be looking for you yesterday. It makes for more of a stop start season and I could see us being at silage well into the autumn. Most crops look very light.