Ours has three to four at this stage so we need to help it keep its tillers and not lose any. This is a challenge this year as we can give it the fertiliser and nutrients it needs, but if it doesn't get the weather there is nothing we can do. If the tillers don't grow and fill or die altogether, it will mean a much lower yield.
It was also very interesting listening to Ivan Whitten from Teagasc go through our machinery costs.
If we didn't rent land our machinery costs would be €214/ac.
With the rented land added in it is €179/ac. However, if we decided not to dry our own grain that would fall to €141/ac.
This figure is much higher than I expected. He used our actual machinery cost, not an estimate.
When you try and calculate how much you can give for rented land I'm not sure most farmers would include a figure this high. It also shows the significance of the cost of drying the grain.
Every year in June when we finish spraying, we sit down and calculate what each crop has actually cost us.
This year will be no different. However, only using two sprays on our winter barley rather than three has saved us a lot of expense.
One spray alone could cost us €1,000. This happened because such a long spell of cold weather prevented any disease pressure.
For our T1 on winter barley we went with Proline at 0.4l/ha, Jenton at 1l/ha, Bravo at 1l/ha, Reaper at 1l/ha and Modus at 0.15l/ha.
We followed this with one packet of Barley Pack per 4ha and Bravo at 1l/ha once the awns were fully out.
The spring barley got Calibre at one packet per 6ha, IPU at 1.5l/ha, aphicide at 1l/ha, manganese at 300g/ha and CeCeCe at 1l/ha to try and help the tillers. It also got 1.3 bags to the acre of CAN (27pc N) to bring it up to 130 units of nitrogen used.
The winter wheat spray programme was Pacifica at 300g/ha, Biopower as a sticker and Calibre SX Max at one pack per 6ha for weeds.
We used IPU earlier in the year to control weeds but it did not work well because of the cold weather.
Three weeks later we went out with our T1 of Cauldron at 1.5l/ha, Bravo at 1l/ha, Modus at 0.1l/ha and Reaper at 1l/ha for cleavers.
The oil seed rape has compaction strips in it and the flowering has made this even more obvious.
We have sprayed it with Caramba at 0.75l/ha, Boron at 300g/ha and Karate at one packet for every 5ha to control pollen beetle.
So far, this semi-dwarf variety has failed to impress and we will wait until it goes over the weighbridge before we make our final decision, but at the moment we would be reluctant to grow it again. I would love to be surprised when harvest comes.
Helen and Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org