Oh, the magical month of May! The hedgerows and the cow parsley verges of the plains of Meath have exploded into bloom and blossom and the countryside is draped in mayflower.
Even annually cut thorn hedges are flowering. Perhaps a legacy of last year’s lovely summer? Remaining with hedges for a moment, there soon won’t be a roadside tree left in Meath.
Farmers seem to be felling these trees with wild abandon.
Presumably, it is because of ash dieback, but trees with a lot of life left are being indiscriminately knocked, which is a shame – and, I suspect, is being done without a felling licence.
That I can understand, as the Pope himself would get a marriage licence quicker than you’d get a felling licence from the Forest Service.
There must be some effort made to replant these trees with other species, like oak or beech. Country roads lose their character and beauty, and become just a dull and boring thoroughfare when these grand old wayside gentlemen are brought down.
The greatly improved weather has brought a flurry of field activity. The potato growers have really borne the brunt of the wet spring.
Planting only got going in the middle of May, but boy, these men know how to get work done when conditions are right.
There were two large stubble fields at lovely Trimblestown, which must be over 100ac all together. I pass by often and recently paused there to behold three big Deeres with six or eight furrow ploughs following each other down the field.
Country roads lose their character and beauty, and become just a dull and boring thoroughfare when these grand old wayside gentlemen are brought down
Then I was surprised just a few days later to see these fields were already beautifully planted. If the good growing conditions continue, these spuds placed into damp and warm soil could make up for some of the lost time.
Alas, the 10 weeks of rain have also messed up the winter crops and potential has been lost. I’m very happy to be proved wrong, but I don’t think we can expect anything very exciting from the oilseed rape that’s had lousy weather for its entire flowering period. But sunshine now would greatly help seed fill, as it would everything else.
The wheat is particularly short, for some reason. Nitrogen may have leached with all the rain, although it may be other seasonal factors.
But I welcome short crops – provided the ear isn’t short as well. Straw is little more than a nuisance and we will be chopping some wheaten straw this harvest under the Straw Incorporation Measure.
A possible negative consequence of this shortness is that it may be easier for Septoria to climb the plant and there is some infection on leaf-two, which is a bit scary. Some of our wheat crops are also thin.
Straw is little more than a nuisance and we will be chopping some wheaten straw this harvest under the Straw Incorporation Measure
Between everything, if I were the chair of a farming PLC, I’d be issuing a profit warning to the shareholders for 2023. Costs are through the roof and I’ve made a complete mess of forward selling. I didn’t forward sell any rape when it was over €600/t and I didn’t forward sell any rape when it was over €500/t.
In fact, I’ve sold none, and now there are no takers at sub €450/t.
Same story with the wheat. I’d say the shareholders would fire me, but I did a good job for them last year.
Finally, my opening sentence is not my own, but the beautiful words of the eminent late author and playwright, Eugene McCabe. I was in school with his son and had the pleasure of staying in their lovely house near Clones.
But while Eugene McCabe had an incredible way with words, he memorably described our schoolboy humour as scatological. Google it! But Mrs P thinks I’m a bit more mature now.