Pat Minnock: 'Farmers are being bamboozled by this inspections bureaucracy'
Field work is usually at a minimum in January and February but the mild winter meant that this January was an exception and some sowing and...
Field work is usually at a minimum in January and February but the mild winter meant that this January was an exception and some sowing and...
At this time every year I see farmers with great intentions about improving their soil and fertility management. They resolve to sample their farm...
Fantastic sowing conditions this back end have seen a substantial increase in winter plantings particularly winter barley.
The weather that we missed out on last spring has been more than compensated for this autumn with excellent conditions for sowing. As a result, winter plantings have been very good.
Last week saw the 2018 harvest coming to a close. While there are still pockets of spring barley and particularly beans yet to be harvested,...
While an early spring is still possible this week's forecast will delay field work for another while. At this stage plans for the spring should be in place and machinery ready to go when conditions allow.
With a month already gone in the new year it won't be long until the field work starts again. All machinery should be thoroughly checked and serviced and repairs carried out if required.
It's that time of the year when field work is next to impossible and in any case not warranted due to current and likely weather conditions over the next two months.
A difficult tillage harvest was followed by an even more difficult planting time with the result that many growers were seriously considering their future in tillage.
The tillage harvest, which is not yet quite finished, will long be remembered for its difficulty and for the lost crops or salvage work required at the end, particularly in relation to straw. Storm Ophelia just added further to the woes especially for those who had beans and maize to harvest.
What a difference the rain makes? While we all feel we get too much rain, crops suffer most when rainfall in low. This spring has been a case in...
The harsh, cold dry weather up to the end of April restricted crop growth and development and while winter crops had been well advanced at the time this weather has brought crops back to their...
The good weather and soil conditions towards the end of March allowed some field work to proceed, particularly the sowing of spring wheat, beans and some barley.
With less than half the month gone it is already living up to its reputation as "March of many weathers". Already this month we have had some lovely spring days preceded and followed by...
The wet and sometimes frosty weather of the past few weeks has slowed field work, which, in my opinion, is a good thing.
This week will see harvesting completed in most areas. In fact, many winter cereal growers actually finished their harvest in early August.
The August Bank Holiday weekend saw major combine activity across the country but especially in the south and southeast. Last week saw all combines at work. The harvest could be wrapped up quickly. For a season that looked like it could have been relatively late and one that went straight from winter to summer the results of this subsequent early harvest have been generally and understandably disappointing.
The very late spring is finally coming to a close, thankfully, and most growers can now move on to more normality and hopefully some good weather.
This is a spring for the history books and one that will live long in the memory. Planting plans are still changing as seed drills are in fields due to seed availability, land suitability etc. We are all well aware of the forage crisis and the suffering of many farmers and animals.
It has been a difficult few weeks and not very suitable for field work with the result that very little spring work is done.
The end of a difficult harvest is finally coming into view. Many farmers in the drier areas of the country would rate it as an early harvest, but elsewhere there are those who continue to struggle.
The likely late harvest will again delay the establishment of cover crops. Up to September 15 farmers will sow 20,000ha of catch crops for GLAS purposes.
While it is too early to panic there is no doubt that there are now major concerns for the successful completion of the harvest and particularly for grain quality.
Most if not all of the winter barley harvest should be completed this week even in the later parts of the country.
The heavy rain of the last week has caused some lodging particularly in spring barley and winter wheat crops.
Now that the turkey has been polished off for another year, this is a good opportunity to look back on 2016 and look ahead to the cropping season.
The remarkable weather of the past number of weeks has seen most crops well established and pest problems minimised. The cold weather has inhibited aphid activity and thereby significantly reduced the potential for Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV).
The excellent weather and sowing conditions of the last number of weeks has encouraged farmers to plant significant acreages of winter cereals again this autumn.
The relatively dry weather of last week allowed further progress to be made with harvest 2016. This was a salvage operation in all cases.
While the weather has delayed the completion of the 2016 harvest, it was surprisingly better, yield wise, than expected. Even many late sown spring barley crops produced 3t/ac plus.
The winter wheat and spring barley harvest is in full swing this week, with many reporting just an average harvest. Some of the March-sown spring barley appears to have done well, with yields of up to 3.5t/ac reported, while the winter wheat that has been cut to date would indicate yields of 4-4.5t/ac with good bushel weights.
Many crops, particularly spring barley, wheat, oats and grass for second crop silage, have benefited from the heavy rain and good growth conditions of last week. Crops have generally caught up and are at normal growth stages for this time of the year, with many spring barley crops looking particularly lush.
Crops continue to improve with the higher temperatures and regular rainfall. Multi-coloured spring crops in particular have started to grow out of the discolouration and most have received their herbicide treatment.
With the most important paperwork of the year - the Basic Payment Scheme applications - put to bed for another year, farmers and advisors can now concentrate on the more technical aspects of their work.
Finally, tillage growers can see some end in sight from a long and difficult spring. Last week saw significant field work completed and this week should effectively finish most of the spring sowing.
Despite the early Easter this will be a very late spring. Weather and soil conditions curtailed any significant field work in March with only light land sown at this stage. Ploughing and sowing of the heavier land continues to remain difficult.
Most winter crops look very well for this time of the year however the potential for problems exists. Crops are advanced but beginning to show signs of hunger.
The weather has remained mild and wet and the predicted cold snap never materialised with the result crops continue to grow, disease and aphids remain an issue and field work is virtually impossible.
The new year brings new opportunities and, undoubtedly many resolutions. Sometimes it can be hard to get the system going to think about the coming year particularly when income prospects do not look good and especially if there was an over indulgence during the Christmas period.
The strong winds and wet weather of the last week has surely put a stop to sowing for this year.
The Taoiseach has talked about making this the best little country to do business in and whatever your political persuasion it is obvious he still has quite a lot of work to do to achieve this.
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.
The late harvest is finally showing signs of wrapping up.
The bad weather of the last few weeks has led to a very 'stop start' type of harvest. With some winter barley crops still to be harvested it is the latest harvest of winter barley that I can remember. Spring crops are also at least a week to 10 days behind normal.
As another harvest comes into view most of the field work is now complete.
The unseasonably cold May has held all crops in check with many more backward than normal. Yet on the plus side most crops have remained relatively disease free.
Despite the beautiful weather of late April there was little growth due to the very cold and frosty nights. While last week saw lots of rainfall, temperatures remained low and growth has continued to stall.
Winter crops are still looking well, notwithstanding the recent cold spell. Growers should now consider their first fertiliser application, if not already done. Priority should be given to backward crops of winter wheat which should receive approximately 25pc of their total allocation or about 50-60kgs of nitrogen per hectare. If P and K is still to be applied this should be applied immediately, preferably as a compound. Around 15-20kgs of sulphur per hectare should be included in the applications on all cereals.
Talking with dairy farmers over the last month they agree that growing as much grass as possible is the best opportunity to reduce on-farm costs this year. Fertile soils are critical to optimise grass growth on your farm. Dr Stan Lawlor presented an excellent paper on soil fertility at the recent Positive Farmers Conference.
Over the next few weeks growers will be trying to get into fields to commence their spring sowing programme. As usual the main crop to be sown will be spring barley. Spring wheat still struggles to give good returns, and it can be a more expensive and less profitable crop.
While this is a quiet period for field work, the time should be used wisely to make farm plans, not just for 2015, but for the next five years. At this stage all the relevant information is available to allow you to make an informed decision.
The poor weather and heavy rains at the end of October have made field work difficult and now leaves a major question mark as to the viability of sowing from now on.
The new regime provides a significant opportunity for young farmers and decisions made now, especially in advance of May 2015, will have a major impact on opportunities for young farmers.
All farmers should reassess their relationship with conacre before next spring. Generally conacre land has lower fertility, gives poorer returns and incurs greater costs. Even f you are heavily mechanised or have additional labour which you feel justifies high price conacre - think again.
A new tillage landscape is emerging as growers finalise their accounts with merchants. Very poor margins, despite good yields, will have a significant effect on crops grown, especially with the impending Greening and buffer zone regulations.
The fantastic Indian summer of the last week has allowed the harvest to be all but completed with only small pockets of beans and spring rape still to be harvested.
Despite the challenging weather of the last two weeks, the main harvest of both winter wheat and spring barley is in full swing this week.
The winter barley harvest is expected to kick off in earnest this week with early indications that yields are reasonable to good. Some of the earlier crops in the south have yielded 3.2t/ac to 4.5t/ac, with relatively low moistures and bushel weights of 62-68 KPH. It would appear that yields are slightly back on the record 2013 yields, however, it is still too early to say for definite.
The last two weeks have been a great time to compare and contrast trial crops and the neighbours' crops. Crop walks are very common and are well worth attending, since real examples and visual results linger longer in the mind than the reams of statistics that will flow once the harvest is complete.
AT THIS time of the year it can be a real pleasure to be in the fields, especially when management decisions made earlier in the year appear to have worked well.
With the good seedbed conditions prepared over the last few weeks, despite the late spring, there is still reasonable yield potential for spring crops. With temperatures higher than normal and occasional showers, crops have germinated quickly and should not suffer any setback from now on. Another decent summer will still deliver good returns.
There is no doubt that this is turning out to be a very late spring with little or no field work done across most of the country.
Already this year there has been over 30pc of the average annual rainfall and while it looks like there may be some respite on the way, it will be some weeks before most land can be worked.
Winter crops that had never looked as well have suffered badly from the heavy rain and flooding over the last few weeks. Up to now, the well-established crops contained few bare patches. However, this might all be about to change with the recent weather.
Now that the goose has been well and truly cooked, eaten and digested, thoughts turn to planning for 2014.
Rules, regulations and particularly cross compliance are the bane of most farmer's lives and tend to drive otherwise very reasonable individuals into a highly agitated, frustrated and angry state -- sometimes with good reason.
The heavy rain of the last week has been very welcome for autumn-sown cereals. Crops have been drilled in excellent conditions and with high soil temperatures, emergence has been even and rapid.
With the improved weather, especially the temperatures over the last few weeks, recent growth of all crops has been significant. Crops look to have reasonable yield potential at last, but there is still some way to go yet.
The best way to manage land at present is to stay away and leave it alone. The temptation to start ploughing is strong as most people are very conscious of the large workload ahead with so little winter crop sown.
It is a year that will not easily be forgotten by tillage farmers. While statistics for 2012 will show that rainfall for the year was about average, the rain that did fall still had a serious impact on yields and quality.
Because they are mostly invisible, the billions of ploughers below the soil's surface have been traditionally overlooked. However, only the fool-hardy will ignore the vital role that they play.
From 0-60mph in 10 seconds is terminology that is familiar to many. From 30-90pc in 10 days is terminology that is not familiar to anybody, but could be coined in relation to the 2012 harvest.
ThIS year's harvest is struggling to get going. I cannot recall any previous season in which winter barley had not been harvested by August 1. Early indicators are not particularly good, and certainly the yields and quality of 2011 will not be reached this year.
The extremely wet weather of the last few weeks has left field work difficult at best. However, low disease pressure has helped to keep most crops very clean with only early-sown winter wheat showing relatively high levels of septoria.
THE rise in temperature and the excellent growth in the past 10 days has been exactly what crops required.
THE growth and development of crops has slowed over the last two weeks, but the rain was very welcome, even if it did make it difficult to get spraying done.
Excellent weather conditions over the past few weeks means that most spring field work has been completed on time. Most winter oilseed rape crops are already at the early stages of flowering. But the frosts of last week have slowed development.
There has been a lot of field work done over the last few weeks, particularly in the southeast. But soil conditions are not great at the moment for sowing.
A deterioration in weather and field conditions over the past week has limited the amount of field work going on and has impacted on the appearance of winter crops.
The EARLY days of the new year are a good time to consider alternatives to the usual crops. The Bioenergy Scheme for miscanthus and willow will close for applications on January 18 and there is limited availability of funding for this year.
We are at the time of year when field work becomes difficult, possibly harmful, and, with the possible exception of ploughing, it is best to put away all tillage equipment for the next 4-6 weeks.
This has been one of the longest harvests for some time but the grain harvest appears to be almost complete except for beans and some spring wheat. Again, there are reasonable reports coming in for spring wheat yields at 3.5t/ac and higher. Proteins are variable, with small numbers of crops at proteins over 10.5.
Growing oats successfully this year was easier said than done, especially with the very hard frosts last winter. Here's what happened on my clients' farms near Athy, in Co Kildare, and the lessons that can be learned.
This year's spring barley, winter wheat and oat harvest is complete in most areas, except for small pockets in the midlands and northeast. In general, the harvest could be described as reasonable to very good.
This year's winter barley harvest has been slow to get going. Some crops were harvested last week in the south of the country and reports are variable. It appears that the better crops will be the later ones to be harvested.
Another spraying season is almost complete. Where does the time go? It seems like such a short time ago that we were getting ready to start weed and disease control on this year's crops. Most crops, especially winter wheat and spring barley, will have received their final fungicide application at this stage. Disease pressure has been low this year and most crops are very clean, although there has been some movement of septoria in the last week.
It is no wonder that weather discussions dominate farming conversations. The wind and rain of the past two weeks have played havoc with efforts to get spraying done.
After an excellent spring and with winter crops two to three weeks ahead of normal, a slowdown in growth and development was noticeable last week mainly due to lack of moisture.
A new year and fresh hopes for another reasonable one. I was delighted to hear that many farmers had had a good year last year and that they were looking forward to the next 12 months.
It was a good week weather-wise so field work has progressed. Plenty of fodder beet and potatoes were harvested. Beet yields are good with average yields between 25-30t/ac. It is making an average price of €35/t loaded. This gives an excellent return for this particular crop this year. It is also good feeding value for winter feeders when compared with finished rations of more than €250/t or cereals at €200/t.
We have just experienced some of the best sowing conditions we might reasonably expect. This has led to a renewed interest in planting of winter cereals.
The last of the harvest appears to have been finally completed. There were mixed fortunes. Spring wheat again was disappointing in yields and returns with millers failing to cover themselves in glory or even in trying to ensure the continued growing of this crop.
An excellent week to complete the cereal harvest meant dust was flying -- a pleasant change from the past two years. The serious lift in prices has also instilled renewed confidence in the tillage sector.
THE WINTER barley harvest is now complete. In addition, the good news this year is that prices continue to strengthen. Green barley (at 20pc moisture) is now making €130-140/t. This is a vast improvement on last year's prices. However, a yield of 2.8t/ac (excluding straw) is still required to break even on owned land. One midland grain buyer has contracts for a €10 premium for Saffron for the premium feed market.
An innovative group of farmers in Carlow are among the first in Ireland to grow a new tillage crop, known as combi-crop, which is a mixture of barley and peas. Balfarm, the group from Ballon, recently held a farm walk with a British consultant to assess the yield and potential of this pioneering new crop.