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Sunday 22 July 2018

'Yield expectations are low in some crops' - Tillage expert details options for farmers as drought hits sector

Growers advised to assess all crops’ yield potential.
Growers advised to assess all crops’ yield potential.

Many of the very late sown spring barley crops are suffering from drought stress, and are quite poor, according to Michael Hennessy, Head of Crops Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc

“Yield expectations are low in some crops. Given the dry weather, low disease pressure and low yield potential, where final fungicides are yet to be applied, tailor the final fungicide spend accordingly. In most cases a very low fungicide spend is warranted.”

He advised tillage growers to assess all crops’ yield potential, especially where grain and straw is being forward sold. Ensure forward sales are based on a proportion of realistic yield estimates for both grain and straw.

There is potential in many areas to sell standing crops of cereals to livestock farmers as whole crop for ensiling.  Estimation of the yield in a field is difficult so there is a challenge to achieve a fair deal between both parties. 

Target the highest yielding crops, generally winter wheat, as these will produce the highest tonnages ensuring value for money.

An early harvest is expected, with some crops of winter barley ripe and harvested this week, which may give rise to opportunities to plant forage crops such as fodder rape, stubble turnips or other green cover crops after harvesting.

Sourcing and agreeing terms with a livestock farmer is essential before planting. Utilisation of these crops will commence in mid to late autumn by grazing in situ. Also before planting forage crops, ensure there is adequate moisture to ensure satisfactory establishment. 

Use a low cost establishment system such as direct drill, to protect margins and conserve moisture.  Rolling after planting is recommended in all cases.

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Root crops such as beet and potatoes are under considerable moisture stress at the moment.  Where there is capacity, the priority is to irrigate potatoes to protect the crop yield.

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