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Thursday 19 July 2018

The rainfall has made this harvest seem like an never-ending affair

James Shine from Kilkenny, a competitor in Under 28 Conventional Class Senior inspects his work at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co Offaly last week. Photo: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency
James Shine from Kilkenny, a competitor in Under 28 Conventional Class Senior inspects his work at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co Offaly last week. Photo: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency
Helen Harris

Helen Harris

When the harvest finished this year, there was no sense of satisfaction. It was more of a sense of relief. I hope by the time this is printed we will have our beans cut.

The last few weeks were a struggle to get crops cut - it was a few hours here and a few hours there. We managed to get it all baled and off the fields. Many were not so lucky.

There is plenty of straw on the ground, dotted all around the country. Straw is sitting in fields looking dull and lifeless, with the grass starting to grow up through it. Now in some parts, its just a salvage operation.

In general, the crop yields seem okay this year. It's just the end of the harvest seems to be never ending with shower after shower.

What did well and what did not? It was very clear that the only way for us to improve yield was to increase our acreage in rotation. All the first wheat did about one tonne more than the continuous.

The Weaver after oilseed rape did about 4.7mt per acre and the Costello after beans did just over 5mt per acre. The Lumos, Avatar and JB Diego in continuous all did just over 4mt per acre.

Considering they all have pretty much the same growing costs, this is a big difference.

The winter and spring barley did well considering the stress the spring barley went through in the April drought. We were very concerned about the winter barley lodging as it had received chicken litter in the autumn. It all stayed standing and the straw looked lovely, bright and golden. I believe the ground was very hungry and needed the nutrition.

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The oilseed rape was sown on August 24.

We have broken our last continuous field of wheat and have put in more oilseed rape than previous years.

We went with two varieties Dekalb DK Exentiel and Pioneer PT 256. We ran into the first problem very quickly as the headland germinated immediately but the main body of the field has not.

SLUG DAMAGE

When we looked closely we found slug damage and seeds that had not germinated. We went out with Meterex slug pellets, but with the showers, I'm not sure they got to work correctly. We are watching the field closely to see if we should go out with more slug pellets or will we have to re-sow the field.

Because it had received a herbicide the field can't be resown for four months. That means it will be beans or spring barley. I have my fingers crossed that it will improve, but if not it will be a very expensive lesson to learn.

We cleaned and dressed the winter barley and winter wheat seed with Redigo Deter.

We have decided to give JB Diego one more year, as even though it was hit badly with mildew and rust it yielded better than expected. It is also a good variety for quality, it bushels well in difficult years.

This is the last year we can use the Deter seed dressing as it is no longer approved in Europe.

This is a big loss as it helped the seed get going and protected it from aphids and slugs. It is a real concern the fact that we are losing these products without any alternative.

We are continuing with Costello winter wheat as it yielded well.

It has short straw, so it wont lodge and it's not prone to sprouting.

We are hoping to try Garrus as it too seems to have done well in a high disease pressure year.

In untreated trials it was particularly dirty with yellow rust but if we can keep it clean I think it's worth a try.

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


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