Michael Kennedy – Athenry, Co Galway

Michael says he has never seen a November like this before. His grass and cereals are still growing, his cattle are still out and ground conditions remain excellent due to relatively low rainfall.

Michael's winter barley has established very well this year.

He says that ground conditions are very unusual for the time of year and soil is soaking quite quickly after rain. There is also good drying during the day in the sunshine.

When talking to Michael this week, he was just after finishing his potato harvest. He says that overall, the crops were good despite the late and slow start. It’s been a late maturing year for potato crops in the west and northwest, so this settled spell for harvesting was welcomed.

He continues to sell bagged potatoes to his customers and demand to-date has been relatively normal

Michael explains that skin finish was particularly good this year and he thinks growing the crop in fresh ground helped this.

Despite the crop being late maturing, he didn’t have any issues with skin set, as he burned them off early with Spotlight Plus.

He continues to sell bagged potatoes to his customers and demand to-date has been relatively normal for the time of year. His winter barley crops are coming along very well. He hasn’t applied an aphicide on the crop, but says aphid pressure generally isn’t a concern in his area.

Crow pressure

Michael says that crow pressure is an issue, however.

Every year, they seem to be getting worse

“Crows are a big problem, they get into the barley and can eat it alive,” he said.

“Every year, they seem to be getting worse – there’s plenty of food for them with the likes of wild bird cover, so their numbers keep increasing.”

He intends on moving his cattle indoors this week. He says that as conditions were so good with continued late grass growth, he left them out for longer this year.

This saved him both time and money. Now that the temperatures are decreasing and he has finished the potato harvest, it is time to bring them in.

Brendan Lynch – Ardee, Co Louth

“I rolled 90% of my winter wheat crops, which were drilled after potatoes – that’s unheard of,” explains Brendan when describing the weather on his farm over the past couple of months. He says that if needed, he could roll the ground again today, as it is so dry. Just 16mm of rain has fallen on his farm during the month of November. “I don’t ever remember a November as good,” says.

Brendan applying DFF and Markate on his winter barley.

The onset of cooler temperatures has slowed crop development, which is welcomed, says Brendan. The cooler day and night time temperatures are also welcomed to assist with potato refrigeration. The cold store has been lowered to 3°C.

It will be maintained at this temperature until next year. When outside temperatures are mild, the fridge has to work harder and longer to maintain the 3°C internal temperature. This in turn increases electricity running costs, he explains.

Three weeks ago, his winter barley crops received a herbicide spray of DFF

All of Brendan’s winter cereal crops are looking exceptionally well, with little signs of slug or bird damage.

Three weeks ago, his winter barley crops received a herbicide spray of DFF at 0.2l/ha, as well as the aphicide Markate 50 at 50ml/ha.

Brendan sprayed this using his Amazon UX4200 on 870 tyres. These tyres were swapped with his combine earlier in the year.

Last Thursday, his winter oats received a herbicide application of DFF (0.25l/ha) and the aphicide Markate 50. He says the cooler temperatures this week will help to reduce the pressure from aphids. His winter oilseed rape is very forward, but looks well, he says.

Most of the straw he had in store is now gone

Brendan recently attended a three day first aid course. The course was organised for growers in his area. He says attending it was worthwhile and recommends others to attend a similar course.

Most of the straw he had in store is now gone, but he still has grain left to move. Elsewhere, he is taking advantage of the good field conditions to clean up ground and lay drains.

Thomas Lonergan – Cahir, Co Tipperary

Ground conditions can still be described as unbelievable in Tipperary, explains Thomas. He does a lot of hedge cutting at this time of year, which has been a pleasure with good ground conditions he says.

There has been just 21mm of rainfall on his farm during the month of November so far.

Thomas's hybrid winter rye is thick and sprawling.

This week saw the first frosty night of the winter return, which should help put the brakes on crop development, he says.

His winter barley crops are generally looking good. However, Thomas notices that crops drilled into winter oat ground with chopped straw did come under pressure with slug damage. However, the good growing conditions helped the crop come through this and he is no longer worried about the damage.

As temperatures up until this week were unseasonably mild, Thomas felt the risk of BYDV transmission from aphids was high. So last week, he applied a second autumn aphicide.

His winter wheat crops are also coming along well. He says his post-emergence herbicide application of Naceto worked very well this year, helped by mild temperatures.

He hasn’t touched his hybrid winter rye crops since their initial herbicide

His winter oats are very advanced and need to slow down, he remarks. Last week, the crop received a herbicide of Sempra (0.2l/ha), as well as the aphicide Lamdba (50ml/ha).

He hasn’t touched his hybrid winter rye crops since their initial herbicide. The crops managed to escape any slug damage this year. He says that the structure of the rye is different to other cereals.

He adds that the crop is sprawled across the field and is relatively flat, forming a dense canopy, as shown in the picture. The crop has slowed its development over the past week, Thomas says.

Elsewhere, they have been busy cleaning their harvest equipment and greasing before winter storage.

Planning is also underway for next season and like most farmers, high fertiliser prices are a concern.

Over the coming weeks, Thomas intends to sit down and work out where he can cut back on fertiliser rates and by how much.