When I spoke to George Byrne earlier this week, it was raining in Bennekerry and he was glad to see it. It was not disrupting harvest on his farm and crops like maize, beans, beet and grass needed it.
Winter barley harvest is complete and he was happy with performance. Yields were above the five-year average for the farm, ranging from 3.2t/ac to 4.3t/ac at 14%-16.5% moisture.
Straw yields were excellent also at seven 8x4x3 bales per acre.
About one-third of the winter barley straw was chopped, targeting fields that were lower in potash (K). All stubbles were cultivated almost immediately and 40ac were sown with a mix of leafy turnip/forage rape for the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS). This was broadcast at 10.6kg/ha in front of a ring roller.
This will provide grazing after 1 December, as well as being a Glas measure. This land is to get cattle slurry at 2,000 gal/ac this week.
Winter wheat was still seven to 10 days from harvest at the start of this week. It looks promising, with no signs of disease or BYDV. Spring malting barley is also promising and about 10 days away.
Spring wheat is still very green and healthy and at least a month away from harvest. Spring beans look very well too – no disease and good pod numbers per plant.
George said that his maize looks to have massive potential, with an average of three good cobs per plant. Sugar beet grew rapidly in the warm weather and he rogued seedy beet/bolters last week. The beet received 2l/ha of liquid Boron last week and will get fungicide within the week.
The only issue in the crop was a patch of cleavers well out from a hedgerow. George questioned if this problem was a result of a failure at his end or a result of the loss of some beet herbicides. Either way, he is wondering if he should be looking again at inter-row cultivation for future weed control.
On balance, 2022 is looking good for George following the “wet and windy May.” Now grain and fertiliser prices will influence sentiment for 2023.
Harvesting is well underway, with winter barley completed for some time and winter oats wrapped up ahead of the break in the weather. Eamonn had started the winter oilseed rape, but rain stopped cutting before he could get a good handle on actual yields.
Like many other growers, Eamonn described his winter barley yields as a little disappointing. But this sentiment is of a very different magnitude to growers elsewhere, where disappointing was a lot less than 3t/ac. He started with Belfry and the first crop yielded 3.5t/ac at an average of 15% moisture with disappointing specific weight (KPH) levels. However, both yields and KPH improved as the harvest progressed to the later-sown crops.
His October-sown Belfry and two-row Tardis both yielded around the 4t/ac mark, with Tardis being particularly impressive and turning in an average KPH of 66kg.
He was very happy with his winter oats, which averaged 4t/ac at 17% moisture on average. The variety was Isabel and it had an average of 54kg KPH off the combine. This was being dried when the weather broke last weekend and it is likely that this will rise the specific weight by another point or two.
Eamonn had just made a start on his winter oilseed rape ahead of the rain last Saturday, so he has no actual yield to report yet. However, he did comment that it looks promising, which is very much in line with yields elsewhere around the country. He is growing the varieties DK Exstar, DK Imprint CL and Acacia.
Winter barley straw was baled and removed while the oat straw was chopped and incorporated. All the stubbles to-date have been shallow cultivated using a disc cultivator.
The oat stubbles were disced to incorporate the chopped straw but the barley stubbles were disced in the belief that they had to be done for nitrates, a rule which has since been changed where stubbles are to be followed by winter crops.
When I spoke to Kenny Dunne early this week, he had not yet started his winter barley harvest. All his crops are for seed and so he does not have the luxury of spraying them off pre-harvest to speed things up.
But it did not help that he was hit with COVID-19 last week just as crops were about ready.
Some growers around him had combines working towards the end of last week, but crops were not over ripe at the time and that exercise was mainly about making sure that everything was working properly.
Kenny has six different winter barley varieties – all for seed. These are Patriot, Orwell, Cassia, Tardis, Infinity and Bolton. They are a mix of old reliable and new varieties. He expects to start with Cassia and then go with the flow.
There was very serious rain in the area the weekend before last, but relatively little last weekend, with no signs of further damage, he said.
He was worried about his oats, but the crop is still standing this week. His winter-sown Husky is now also ready for harvesting, but the Isabel is spring-sown and is a while away still.
Kenny is happy with his winter wheat crops – Extase, Dawsum and Graham. He also has winter oilseed rape – Ambassador – to work into the rotation for seed crops.
This week, he will be busy walking through his spring barley crops to pull any stray plants that should not be there before the DEFRA inspectors come to give their final decision on the suitability of the crops to be used for seed.
Kenny said that he is considering buying some compound fertiliser shortly for next year. He is mainly interested in 18:14:14 (18:06:12) and 20:0:13 (20:0:11). He also told me that he is seriously considering a move to liquid nitrogen for next year.
As leader of a local buying group, Kenny commented that gas for drying is only up 10p/l on last year, while the price for agricultural diesel has doubled.