Limavady, Co Derry
Until this week, August weather had been broken in Limavady. While showers have been hit and miss at times, over 100mm of rain has fallen on Jonathan’s farm during the month. Despite this, ground conditions are still excellent and he has been able to complete plenty of field work.
When talking to Jonathan this week, he was spreading chicken manure ahead of sowing winter oilseed rape.
He is sowing 60ac of the variety DSV Darling this year at a rate of 2.5kg. Most of it was sown with a plough and press, but he did sow 20ac by direct drilling into stubble.
He was happy with the performance of this year’s winter oilseed rape crop, averaging around 2t/ac at 10-12% moisture. He also baled the straw this year, which managed an impressive eight 4x4 round bales/ac.
The winter barley, which was harvested just after we spoke to Jonathan last, performed better than earlier crops and brought his average yield up to around 3.25t/ac. He still has around 20ac of that straw to bale, which he will get to this week.
His winter wheat is now ready for cutting as soon as the weather allows, and he is optimistic about its potential. All going well, his 140ac should be harvested within four days. His spring barley will likely be ready for harvest by next week and his spring beans are turning black in colour. He remains very happy with the progress of his maize crops. The season has really suited it and every part of the field looks strong, Jonathan says.
Despite the broken weather, he has been busy with other jobs around the farm. He says that one job that is continuous is installing and maintaining drains, which normally takes place in the summer months.
He is also nearly finished installing a weigh bridge at the yard and some of his beef cattle are beginning to calve. On top of this, Jonathan says it’s vital to make time for family during these busy periods.
Kilgraigue, Co Meath
There were a few limited opportunities to harvest winter wheat on Norman’s farm last week, but, as grain moistures were high, he decided to wait for the settled weather this week.
“It’s cheaper to dry the grain in the field with sun than in the shed with diesel,” he said.
All of his cover crops, which were sown after winter barley, have now emerged. He says that the brassicas were the first to emerge, but the linseed, buckwheat and clovers are catching up.
When talking to Norman this week, he was applying compost at 2.5-3t/ac onto these covers. The compost is made locally and Norman operates a straw swapping arrangement with the producer. The compost has been wind rowed and mixed several times throughout the past year and will be a beneficial soil conditioner, he explains.
He is flailing a summer cover crop this week ahead of sowing winter wheat. The summer cover crop, which consists of multiple species including sunflowers, buckwheat, clovers, phacelia and many more, was sown into a winter cover crop in spring, in a field taken out of production for a year. Norman says the 22ac field was under performing so he took it out for cropping for a year, building fertility through cover crops and compost. He says flailing the cover crop before the plants go to seed makes the organic matter more easily available to worms.
Norman aims to harvest his winter wheat crops this week before moving onto spring oats. If the weather proves to be sunny, he thinks his spring barley will be fit for harvesting by the end of the week. He aims to chop some of his winter wheat, spring oats and spring barley straw under the Straw Incorporation Measure.
He will aim to sow an autumn cover crop after harvesting his spring crops, but thinks the field may have to be cultivated to help the seed establish. Weather permitting, Norman’s spring beans could be ready for harvest by mid-September.
Mallow, Co Cork
The weather has been tough in north Cork over the past month, so the arrival of a settled spell is welcomed, explains John.
Over the past month, around 100mm of rain fell on his farm. Last Friday alone, some 16mm of rain fell.
Despite this however, he has been able to make reasonable progress with his harvest and he thinks this week should finish it.
John was able to harvest his winter oats at the end of July. It took five days to harvest the 60ac, working mostly in the evenings. The crop averaged 4.3t/ac at 19% moisture, which he is happy with.
All of the oat straw has yet to be baled, but this will be gathered up this week. In hindsight, John questions whether the straw should have been chopped. He has around 100ac of winter barley left to bale as well, which will be spread and rowed before baling.
He is down to his last 20ac of winter wheat, having been able to harvest a large proportion of his crop last week. John was able to bale most of the straw behind the combine, but still has around 20ac of lying straw to bale.
On average, his winter wheat crops, which are all continuous, are yielding well at 4.15t/ac at 19% moisture. He chopped an amount of wheat straw under the Straw Incorporation Measure.
John also made a start to spring barley, which is so far yielding 3.4t/ac at 17-18%. He has around 30ac left to cut. The straw is baling up well, averaging 10 4x4 round bales/ac.
All of the grain is dried and will be aerated throughout the winter. Despite the broken weather, the harvest has gone smoothly thanks to his staff, says John. He was able to get a lot done during the narrow weather windows.
Around half of his stubble ground has received an application of pig slurry and he aims to start ploughing for 2022’s winter crops around 7 September.