Agricultural contractors expect to be making silage into the first week of November as farmers scramble to increase winter fodder supplies.
Fermoy-based contractor George Ross told the Farming Independent he expects to wrap up third and fourth cuts of silage in the coming weeks, with his last jobs due to be done by the end of the first week in November.
"It's been challenging this year because we had such a long stretch during the drought when nothing was happening," said Mr Ross.
"Second cut yields then suffered hugely as a result of the drought. In a lot of cases we are actually seeing stronger yields in the third cut compared to the second cut which would be very unusual. On the plus side, ground conditions are holding up well and the maize harvest is actually ahead of schedule for this time of year and almost wrapped up now."
Contractors will also be cutting late in Carlow, according to Louise Carroll, an agricultural contractor based in Tullow. Ms Carroll helps run the family contracting business alongside her father and brother and is also studying Ag Science in UCD.
"We are running later than usual but we do expect to be done with the last of the silage in the next two weeks. The beet harvest has kicked off now as well, so we have been busy with overlapping jobs that would not usually be going on at the same time," Ms Carroll explained. "It hasn't been ideal in terms of workload but at least our customers have been able to build up silage reserves again after having to dip into them during the drought."
Highly unusual weather patterns this year threw traditional silage making dates into disarray as grass growing conditions completely stalled during the summer drought. However, growth rates have staged a much-needed rally for second and third cut silage, just in time for farmers to attempt to make up fodder shortages ahead of winter.