'The way things stand we are already a month behind on winter barley' - Tillage farmer with 500ac on dire weather conditions
Spring spraying programmes have been put on hold due to the dire weather conditions, reports Siobhán English
It has been a long winter for Co Tipperary tillage farmer Noel Delany and it will be an even longer spring as the wet weather continues to hammer down on his 500acre farm near Fethard in Co Tipperary.
He is already a month behind on winter crops and his efforts to plough fields in preparation for spring crops has been badly hampered as much of the ground remains saturated.
"The way things stand we are already a month behind on winter barley and oats and we have yet to apply the second lot of nitrogen."
"Soil temperatures were at 4°C in March, which was 1°C below normal. They are up to 7°C in the past few days so we would now expect some growth.
"Also we had 135mm of rain for the month of March. The average is 65mm so it was 200pc above what we anticipated. We've had 50mm so far this month," he said.
For early control of annual meadow grass weed and broad-leaved weeds last autumn he used 0.3l of Firebird per hectare which he has found quite effective.
This week he is hoping to apply Helix, providing there are a few dry days in succession.
Crowned Zurich Tillage Farmer of the Year in 2015, Noel's attention to detail is usually meticulous, but even someone as organised as this could never be prepared for one of the worst winters in history.
"I haven't seen it as bad and as wet in years - it is definitely worse than it was in 2013," he said.
"The intention was to get all the spring crops sown by the end of April but that is all weather dependent. We haven't even started ploughing yet."
Some 150ac will go for spring barley, with another 50 acres for spring oats.
He has also set aside 45ac for grass and hopes to get at least two cuts of silage this summer.
"Again that is all subject to change as we will have to see what the next few weeks will bring."
In recent years both Noel and his son Gavin have diversified and are selling much of their crops direct to farmers, a business which has seen them working round the clock in recent weeks owing to severe fodder shortages.
"In one afternoon alone we sent out 1,000t of silage. This has been sourced from outside. We have also sold another 100t of hard feed between rolled oats and maize."
Such was the demand last week that Gavin was even out-sourcing barley as their supply had run out.
"There is a major fodder scarcity and it will be even worse this autumn. This is why I have decided to set aside some acreage for silage again.
"In my opinion tillage farmers really need to row in with the dairy sector and contract grow for them to make sure there is enough supply when needed," he added.
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