Wet weather over recent months has meant up to a quarter of winter crops in NI have been damaged, according to Downpatrick cereal grower Richard Orr.
Speaking on a webinar last week, the AHDB monitor farmer said it had been “another difficult winter” for the members of his discussion group who farm in Co Down and the north west.
“The consensus with most of us would be that up to 25% of all winter sown crops are going to be either not much use or will have to be re-drilled in the springtime,” Richard said.
“Some crops have established and done really well where they are in the right conditions, but once the rain started to set in, other crops struggled,” he added.
Richard maintains that ground conditions at present are not as good as this time last year
More recently, limited rainfall coupled with an east wind throughout the second week of February helped improve ground conditions across all farms in NI.
However, Richard maintains that ground conditions at present are not as good as this time last year, although he acknowledges there is currently more crop drilled than there was 12 months ago.
“With crop in the ground, we are better off this year, but with ground conditions, we are probably not any further forward,” he said.
During the online meeting, Richard discussed a new enterprise on his farm where he is growing milling wheat. This is used to bake bread that is sold through his family run farm shop and café.
We are starting small to see how we get on
“We grew Extase last year and thankfully it worked well. We had a protein of just over 14% and, for our climate in NI, we are really happy with that,” Richard said.
“We are starting small to see how we get on. We are trying to add a bit more value to our crop. Usually when you are growing grain, you are price taker from the world market,” he added.