Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Yields and quality have held up well despite the weather

John Slattery (81) from North Tipperary in action on his Case IH Tractor in the Intermediate Conventional Class at last week's Ploughing. John was the oldest competitor at the championships. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.
John Slattery (81) from North Tipperary in action on his Case IH Tractor in the Intermediate Conventional Class at last week's Ploughing. John was the oldest competitor at the championships. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.
Pat Minnock

Pat Minnock

The latest and longest drawn out harvest of recent years is still struggling to finish. Pockets of spring wheat and beans remain to be harvested particularly in the west and in the north east.

Despite the difficulties with the harvest, yields and quality have held up well with beans yielding up to 3 tonnes and spring wheat yielding three to 4.5 t/ac.

Boormalt have indicated that they have filled both their brewers' contract, with less than 1pc of all barley delivered rejected because of proteins greater than the 10.8pc limit while also filling their distillers' contract with proteins of less than 8.8pc.

The base price at 20pc moisture will be €160 with up to €180 possible depending on forward selling options chosen during the year. Feed barley will probably level out at €135-€140/t. Amazingly, despite the bad weather and bad prices planting for the new season is already moving on.

Again farmers need to consider their situation regarding the two/three crop rule if they have more than 10/30 hectares of tillage.

Don't forget newly sown grass seed from an arable situation counts for the calculation. For many growers planting of winter barley and winter wheat will be the choice for two crops. Farmers should also remember the need for buffer strips.

A two-metre uncultivated strip must be left between crops and watercourses. Growers should also be aware of their obligations under the Nitrates Directive. If you spray stubble or plough you must establish green cover within six weeks or face a cross compliance penalty if inspected.

Over the last number of years winter barley has performed very well. Much of this can be put down to the new varieties particularly the emergence of hybrids. Management of hybrid barley is more demanding and different from conventional varieties.

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The new variety Quadra which is a six-row hybrid is the highest yielder on the recommended list (110) joining the high yielding Volume (109) also a six-row hybrid. These hybrids have relatively good hectolitre weights.

With a small quantity of Quadra seed available orders should be placed immediately. The two-row conventional variety Tower (103) had a very good year in 2015 and should be plentiful this autumn. Seed for KWS Infinity (102), a new two-row conventional variety may be unavailable.

The standard bearer of the last few years, KWS Cassia (98) has the most seed available this autumn and is still a good performer. Leibniz (102) a six- row conventional variety makes up the rest of the list but is the poorest on hectolitre weights.

Hybrid varieties require reduced seed rates with seeding rates normally advised on the bag. They work out at approximately six stone per acre (90-100kgs/ha). In addition to this lower seeding rate early application of nitrogen in the spring is a must as is a significant PGR programme.

Winter oats can also be planted now. The Department's recommended list shows no change, with Husky (105) the top yielder followed by the only true winter variety, Vodka (98) while the old reliable Barra (95) remains. This variety was first listed in 1986 and while this shows the staying capacity and quality of Barra it also means that new varieties are badly needed.

Winter wheat sowing has also commenced with October likely to be a busy month for planting. There is no doubt that this crop gives good returns as a first wheat and yields of up to 6t/ac were achieved this season. High yields have to be achieved to sustain this crop as the cost of fertiliser and disease programmes on wheat continues to grow. 2015 was a relatively low cost disease year for septoria however this will not always be the case.

Anything that leads to reduced potential yield in this crop for example, rotation, late sowing, sowing in poor fertility soils and poor seed beds should be avoided to ensure top yields are achieved.

The variety JB Diego (100) has had another very good year and seed supply is plentiful. Avatar (100) also performed well, while KWS Lumos (97) and Dunmore (97) will also be freely available. The provisionally recommended varieties are KWS Lilli (100), Leeds (98) and Weaver (101).

There may also be seed available of Garrus, Monterey, and Rockefeller, which show some potential. For early sowing Avatar and Garrus appear to have a slight advantage over Diego when planted early. For those still considering continuous wheat Einstein, if available, is a good option with JB Diego also capable of performing in this situation.

Winter oil seed rape has generally established well. Monitoring crops for slug and flea beetle damage should continue, as slugs have been very active in places.

Flea beetle damage is indicated by small puncture marks on the cotyledons known as the 'shot hole' effect. Spraying can be carried out with products containing cypermethrin. Volunteer cereals are very evident and should be sprayed with a graminicide at this stage.

Finally, for those farmers seeking to satisfy their greening requirement through equivalence a catch crop must be planted. There is a two-week derogation available if growers failed to plant before September 15 however the form must be submitted to the Department.

Pat Minnock is a Carlow based agricultural consultant and a member of the ACA and the ITCA.

Indo Farming