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Grain harvest is now a salvage operation, say tillage farmers

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Motorists make their way through flooded roads near Dunmanway in Co Cork following Storm Ellen - tillage farmers are bracing themselves for the arrival of Storm Francis. Photo: Damien Storan/PA

Motorists make their way through flooded roads near Dunmanway in Co Cork following Storm Ellen - tillage farmers are bracing themselves for the arrival of Storm Francis. Photo: Damien Storan/PA

Motorists make their way through flooded roads near Dunmanway in Co Cork following Storm Ellen - tillage farmers are bracing themselves for the arrival of Storm Francis. Photo: Damien Storan/PA

The second cyclonic storm to hit Ireland in as many weeks is threatening to turn this year’s embattled grain harvest into a salvage operation.

Met Éireann has issued a Status Orange rainfall warning for much of the country, with Storm Francis forecast to pummel the country with wind speeds set to average 55-65km/h and gusts to hit 110km/h.

With the south and west is set to receive up 60mm of rain in the storm, and flash flooding likely in parts, tillage farmers in Cork and Waterford said the harvest in Munster is turning into a salvage operation.

Severe difficulties with sprouting in both winter wheat and spring barley, allied to the wet and humid weather and crops breaking down, had already turned an extremely promising harvest into a real battle.

“Quality is deteriorating by the day, we are chopping straw on headlands at a minimum rather than messing with it, and ground conditions are getting nasty,” said Cork IFA grain chairman, James Hegarty.

Dick Fitzgerald from Ladysbridge in east Cork said that deteriorating ground conditions meant the harvest was already a salvage operation.

Serious problems are also reported in seed crops, with growers reporting high rejection rates in seed crops of winter wheat and spring barley because of sprouting.

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