After a week of mixed weather in which some farmers were fortunate to get silage cut without rain, the outlook for the next few days means that is unlikely.

Widespread rain is forecast for most of the country over Monday, Tuesday and extending into Wednesday.

While the quantity of rain falling isn’t huge, any amount of rainfall is enough to stop farmers from cutting, as the drier the grass the better the silage.

The outlook for later in the week is looking a bit better, but, again, Met Eireann is saying it’ll be mixed and unsettled.

As everyone knows, forecasts are less reliable the further out they are but are very accurate closer to the time, with the exception of thunder storms which can be quiet localised.

Not guaranteed

Essentially, farmers need at least 48 hours of dry weather in order to cut silage - and that presumes land is dry enough to take machinery, something that is not guaranteed this year.

Now, there will be times when that is not possible and only a shorter window will be available. The trade-off between dry silage is quality, because every extra day that grass is growing now will lead to declines in quality.

For every one day delay in harvest after heading date, silage quality declines by 0.5% dry matter digestibility (DMD). So a one-week delay will drop quality by around 3.5% DMD, which is a fairly significant drop in quality.

In my view, if the crop is fit to cut and if high-quality silage is required, then farmers would be better off cutting if given half a chance, even if they don’t get the full 24 hours of dry weather.

Element of risk

There is also an element of risk and chance involved, particularly in broken seasons like this one. Waiting for the perfect conditions just may not be an option.

That’s not to say that farmers can cut in the rain, as that’s just not on, but if the chance of rain is low, it could be worthwhile taking a chance.

With a bank holiday next weekend, make sure that polythene and all other essentials are in stock and ready to go.

Make sure that effluent channels are clean and that there is enough storage for all effluent over the coming weeks.