The beans are up and have beaten the crows

(Stock Photo)
(Stock Photo)
James Collins with his dog Gismo at the Dunderry Fair in Co Meath. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Helen Harris

Helen Harris

At last we have the sowing finished.

In a normal year I would say better late than never, but given it ran this late, I will wait and see when harvest comes to find out if I made the correct decision on when to proceed.

The beans are up and the fine weather has helped them get away, before the crows had a chance to do any damage. I have heard of beans going in as late as last week.

I don't know if the total acreage of the country will be back on last year, as has been suggested.

Plenty of farmers seem to think that the protein payment will make up for the loss in yield by sowing them late.

Again we will have to see if this is worth the risk.

It may be the last year of the protein payment so it will be interesting to see the difference in next year's acreage.

Teagasc will tell you that it is a loss leader, and without the protein payment it is not worth growing, unless you can take that financial hit.

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So far on the plant itself, we have no notching on the leaves from the bean weevil, but we are keeping a close eye on it.

The spring barley was put in during the fine weather and sowing with dust behind the drill, was a lovely sight.

We went with Mickel and Gangway spring barley and went slightly higher in our seeding rate to normal at 13st per acre.

The worry with upping the seeding rate of spring barley is the higher risk of lodging. Also, the later the sowing date, the higher risk of BYDV (barley yellow dwarf virus).

In general it was sown in good conditions and the fields had dried up a huge amount in those few fine days.

We got it all rolled and when we put the drill away we were just commenting that it won't get much of a rest this year, as we will have it out again in three months' time to get the oil seed rape sown in August.

It was our first year of using the direct drill for all our spring crops and it will be interesting to see if we notice any difference.

It was a tough first year to have changed from the plough, but its all in now so we can only wait and see.

I do think that the double hopper is a great idea.

Being able to place fertiliser down the spout with the seed should really help the spring barley, spring oil seed rape and particularly the beans get going.

When the soil warmed up and the plant wanted to grow the fertiliser was sitting there beside it in the soil.

The spring oil seed rape variety we went with this year is a hybrid Mirakel.

It's marketed as a good variety for the Irish climate and is less resistant to lodging.

It went in at 3.83kg per ha and four bags of 10.7.25 + 4S at the same time.

The ground we sowed was very compacted so even though we have the direct drill we ploughed it first and then direct drilled with the Claydon drill.

The next worry we have is getting on top of the wild oats and brome problem in a couple of spots.

One field seems to have a particularly bad patch of wild oats for no reason.

The straw wasn't chopped, which can be blamed for spreading seeds, but this field was baled and direct drilled.

When the plants become obvious it was a bit of a puzzle as to why they have appeared, where they are. One theory is that they could become more resistant to some of the chemicals we have previously used.

We are going to try and change this year to Broadway Star to see if the different chemistry can control the wild oats and brome.

These are the two main weeds that need controlling, luckily we don't have any black grass, yet.


Now that we have all the sowing done, its time to concentrate on the spray program and keep a very close eye on all the crops for diseases and rusts.

If the crops get a burst of soft growth in good weather, it can make the plant weaker and slightly more vulnerable.

Philip and Helen Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Follow them on twitter P&H Harris @kildarefarmer

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