Padraig Kehoe – Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

Since last month’s heatwave, there haven’t been two full harvest days in a row, explains Padraig.

Over the past month, around 66mm of rain has fallen on his farm and much of this was during August.

Luckily, he was able to harvest his winter oats before the weather really broke down.

Padraig harvesting winter wheat between the showers.

This year, he is growing the variety Isabel for both the equine and gluten-free market.

The crops yielded between 3.8-4.1t/ac at 16-19% moisture content. Specific weights came in at around 58KPH.

Padraig decided to chop all of his winter oat straw this year under the Straw Incorporation Measure and has since disced the fields.

His hybrid winter rye is now ripe, but is proving difficult to get dry enough to harvest as the heads are so large. Padraig says the grain quality is still good however and the crop hasn’t broken down yet.

Winter wheat

Next, he moved to his earlier sown spring barley crops, harvesting in between showers when he could. However, he pulled out of the crop and moved to winter wheat, as these crops were considerably riper.

Padraig made good progress with harvesting his wheat crops and now has around 75% of his Graham variety cut. He says two days would finish this year’s winter wheat.

So far, the crop is yielding around 4.8t/ac at between 19-20% moisture with specific weights of around 75KPH. While Padraig is pleased with this yield, he did expect the crop to do better.

He hasn’t managed to bale any of the wheat straw yet, but yields look promising. The pressure is on to finish the wheat harvest, considering the crop is destined for seed. His spring beans are now beginning to turn and he is optimistic about the crop’s potential.

Direct drilling

Padraig intends on drilling winter oilseed rape as soon as the fields are clear. He will either sow DK Expansion or Exception. He also intends on sowing phacelia and vetch as a cover crop in select fields.

Iain McMordie – Downpatrick, Co Down

Last month’s drought conditions in Co Down came to a sudden end with the arrival of rain at the start of August. On 6 August alone, some 38mm of rain fell throughout the day. Since then, the weather has been catchy, with few opportunities to harvest.

Ground conditions are still good however and this week, Iain was able to drill winter oilseed rape.

Iain had a tank of water nearby which, along with the combine’s fire extinguisher, was used to put the fire out.

This year, he is growing the hybrid variety Exalt, which was drilled at 2.5kg/ha and rolled after. He has yet to harvest this year’s winter oilseed crop, however.

Iain says that he is in no panic, as the crop has yet to fully ripen and the variety’s anti-pod shatter genes means that it is relatively safe from the elements.

His Kingsbarn, Bazooka and Orwell winter barley crops averaged 3.85t at 14% moisture. Around 20% of the grain had volunteer wheat mixed through it, meaning it had to be dried.

Iain had a close call with his Deutz-Fahr C9206 combine after a bearing on the variable speed pulley came loose before dropping onto the sward of straw, subsequently setting the straw on fire.

Luckily, he had a tank of water nearby and quickly put it out. Cork-based Kearney Bros were very helpful in getting the combine going again the next day, Iain said.

His winter barley straw averaged 11 4x4 round bales/ac, which was quickly cleared. He then drilled a cover crop of spring oats at 165kg/ha. He intends on grazing the cover crop with sheep in the autumn.

Iain has managed to harvest just one load of his spring oats, so as soon as the weather improves, this crop will be harvested. As it is destined for seed, it is important that the crop is harvested in good condition and dried quickly.

Much of his winter wheat crops are also ready for harvesting. This means that as soon as the weather settles, Iain will be under pressure, as his oats, oilseed rape and wheat will be ready at the same time.

Con Barry – Lixnaw, Co Kerry

“The southwest is a tough place to be growing grain,” explained Con when talking to him this week. Since last month’s heatwave, the weather has been broken in Kerry, making the harvest a smash-and-grab exercise. He has been able to make some progress however.

Con harvesting winter wheat this week.

Two weeks ago, he harvested his hybrid winter rye and crimped the grain. The crop yielded 5.1t/ac at 33% moisture content. Con thinks he will change the crop’s nitrogen strategy if he decides to grow it again.

He thinks applying less nitrogen at the start of the season and more towards the end of the season will help keep the crop greener for longer. He is waiting for the weather to improve before baling the straw.

He also harvested an amount of his winter wheat crops. The crop averaged 5.8t/ac at 34% moisture content. Both his rye and wheat were treated with the additive Lalsil Fresh. He pitted some of the straw and aims to bale the rest of it. He says there is a large crop of straw, as he only applied one PGR application during the season.

Grain harvest

When talking to Con, he was in the middle of harvesting the rest of his winter wheat with his two Deutz-Fahr Topliner combines. His Bennington crop averaged an impressive 5.2t/ac at 18.8% moisture, with specific weights of 74.2KPH. He says this was one of the highest-yielding wheat crops he has grown to-date.

He doesn’t store any of the grain himself and instead delivers it straight to Barrons Agri in Ballynaskreena.

He will move onto spring barley next week. He thinks the crop will perform ok, but won’t be exceptional. Con also intends on wholecropping around 30ac of spring oats and 40ac of spring wheat, as well as spring barley undersown with grass next week.

While the weather has been tricky over the past few weeks, Con says he is largely up-to-date with work and is well ahead compared to this time last year.