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Saturday 18 November 2017

Yields from harvest 2013 were good – but we broke no records

Helen Harris

Helen Harris

With two brothers abroad, our family decided to have our own little gathering, for the year that was in it. When did they decide on having it? The last week of August, when the only gathering we were thinking about was the gathering in of the grain.

Our reunion was short but it was great to see the whole family. The 2013 harvest won't be remembered as fondly, but it wasn't a bad one either.

The yields and quality were good, but no records were broken. The weather was fine but a bit damp on a few of the days that we could have done with some more sunshine. All in all a pretty uneventful one – which in my book is a great year.

We like things to go smoothly and for nothing too drastic to happen one way or the other. When machinery is not put under pressure it makes life much easier. The wet years that force you to put the combine into the field, in not ideal conditions, are the years that seem to involve a lot more heartache.

The gap between harvest and sowing doesn't exist anymore. No sooner have we cleared the field of bales than we're straight back out with a stubble cultivator. We finished drying late one night and started ploughing the following morning.

SMALL WINDOW

This leaves jobs like drainage and hedge-cutting to get done in a very small window of time. We had more than 220ac of JB Diego winter wheat; we don't normally have that big a block in just one variety. It did 3.5t/ac at 16pc moisture.

The variety that really did better for us was Avatar winter wheat, which did 4t/ac also at 16pc moisture. When these two are brought back to 20pc moisture the yields look even better. The one disappointing variety was Grafton, which only did 3.2t/ac, again at 16pc moisture.

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Next year, the plan is to sow our winter wheat in approximately 70ac blocks. The varieties we are looking at are our best yielder Avatar, the old reliable JB Diego and three new ones. They will probably be Kielder, Ferrari and Lumen. Seed availability and/or price may change this.

We are hoping to increase the area of winter barley from 80ac to 100ac, and not have any spring barley this year. We had Cassia winter barley this year, which did 4t/ac. Our spring barley was Propino, which did 3.4t/ac at 17pc and 15pc moisture respectively. The varieties we are putting in this year are 90ac of two-row Cassia and 10ac of six-row Volume.

The oilseed rape did 1.4t/ac, which we were very happy with considering the ups and downs we had with it all year. The new crop of Troy oilseed rape is well up and established. It got Katamaran to control the weeds shortly after sowing at 1.75L/ac. A few weeks later it got Aramo at 1L/ha to control the volunteer barley, which was very strong at that stage. At the moment there doesn't seem to be any slug or pigeon damage.

We were in continuous cropping and have changed to start a rotation with wheat following the oilseed rape. Some farmers say that if the oilseed rape loses money, you can make it back with the following year's benefit in wheat. But with the way the price of wheat has dropped, we need the oilseed rape to be a profitable crop.

With the weather staying mild, it should help ground temperatures stay warm to give the grain a chance to germinate before it turns cold. We sent off a few seed samples to test for germination. The results were all up in the high 90s. That means the quality of seed this year should be very good and may mean we can sow at a slightly reduced rate.

Helen and Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Email: helenharrisfarm@gmail.com Twitter: P&H Harris@kildarefarmer

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