Promised rain will be welcomed by many farmers later this week, as grass and crop growth has been stifled in drier areas.

The average grass growth rate recorded on Pasture Base Ireland (PBI) this week was 48kg DM/ha/day, trailing way behind the average growth rate of 72kg DM/ha/day for the same time in 2020.

Growth rates over the next week will be critical for those farmers who haven’t had rain since late March.

Many of these farmers have found themselves increasing concentrate feeding rates, grazing silage ground and in some cases, reintroducing silage in a bid to slow rapidly falling average farm covers.

Below average

So far, 2021 has been far from a record breaking year for grass growth by any means.

Figures recorded on PBI show that although growth lagged behind the average in February, it was on the rise slowly up to early April. In early April 2021, growth rates exceeded the averages recorded on PBI for the same period in 2019 and 2020.

Increasing temperatures saw average growth rates for the week of 7 April hit 33 kg DM/ha/day, compared to 27kg DM/ha/day and 28kg DM/ha/day for the same week in 2020 and 2019 respectively.

However, with the arrival of lower temperatures and freezing overnight conditions in mid April, growth slowed in many areas.

The growth rates for the first three weeks of April, as recorded on PBI, were 33kg DM/ha/day, 34kg DM/ha/day and 35kg DM/ha/day. The lack of rain exacerbated the effect of the cold nights.